More Arrests Indictmen’s Made for Parliament Deaths

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Military prosecutors investigating the October 27 assassinations of Armenian leaders have accused pollster and former journalist Nairi Badalian of involvement in the attack on the parliament building–a senior prosecutor said on Monday.

Artak Harutiunian–head of the investigations department of the military procuracy–told RFE/RL that Badalian has been formally charged with "assisting in the crime," but gave no other details If convicted–Badalian may be sentenced to at least ten years in prison under the existing criminal code.

Badalian who runs an independent polling organization Logos was arrested late last week. He knows personally Nairi Hunanian–the leader of the gunmen who burst into the parliament–and was inside the building during the killings.

Badalian was interrogated by law-enforcement officers immediately after the attack but was then set free. He is one of the several individuals reportedly detained on suspicion of having links with the five gunmen.

Also detained was Mushegh Movsisian–an independent deputy of parliament. The prosecutors must either release him or seek the parliament’s consent for his prosecution by Wednesday.

Tigran Torosian–a deputy speaker of parliament–told RFE/RL on Monday that the National Assembly leadership has been officially informed about Movsisian’s arrest.

Officials in Yerevan on Saturday confirmed reports that Movsisian–has been detained on suspicion of involvement in the October 27 murder of Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and seven other officials during a routine parliament session.

"I have been told by reliable sources that this has been the case and is related to the latest events," said Vahan Hovannisian–chairman of the parliament committee on defense and security of which Movsisian is a member.

Under Armenian law–a person can not be held in custody for more than four days unless formal charges are leveled against them. Parliament deputies can be put under arrest and prosecuted only with the consent of the National Assembly. Hovannisian told RFE/RL by telephone that he has not yet received any requests to that effect from military prosecutors.

Press reports said Movsisian was detained on Thursday. He was reportedly close to the ruling Unity bloc which was co-headed by the slain leaders.

Movsisian worked as the chief administrator of a village in the southern Armavir province before his election to parliament last May.

Hovannisian said the detained deputy was "really outraged" by the arrest on criminal charges of his brother several months ago.

While noting that the latter was "extremely unhappy with law-enforcement bodies and the country’s leadership," Hovannisian cautioned that he has no evidence to suspect Movsisian of involvement in the brutal killings.

The five gunmen who seized the parliament chamber said they acted on their own before giving themselves up on October 28.

Friends of independent photo correspondent Ruben Mangasarian–told RFE/RL that he too may have been detained as they tried to find out Mangasarian’s his whereabouts.

More details of the investigation may come into light early this week during the expected news conference of Chief Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian.

A source close to law-enforecement agencies reported late last week that at least five more individuals were arrested in connection to the Oct. 27 siege at the Parliament building.

With the two announcemen’s Monday–speculation still remains on the identity and charges against the other two arrested for alleged involvement in the parliament shootings.


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