Member in Disbanded Unrest Probe Promises New Revelations About March 1 Riots

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–An opposition member of an independent expert probe into last year’s post-election unrest disbanded by Armenian authorities last month has promised to submit a report that he said will shed light on the circumstances of the death of one of ten people killed in Armenia’s worst street violence.


Andranik Kocharian, one of two opposition representatives in the five-member Fact-Finding Group of Experts, refused to name the killed person that the report will deal with before its publication some time next week.


But he said: “This has been one of the most serious pieces of investigation completed by the group.”


The group including experts appointed by the opposition and the governing coalition on a parity basis as well as one representative of the state human rights defender was set up by President Serzh Sarkisian last October to assist the main parliamentary probe with a body of evidence on the circumstances of the violence that also left more than 200 people injured and led to the worst political crisis in Armenia’s history. But Sarkisian himself controversially terminated the work of the group in early June citing its members’ failure “to rid themselves of their political agendas.”


The work of the group was effectively paralyzed in early May by mounting tensions among its members. The Ombudsman’s representative Vahe Stepanian resigned from the group later that month, saying that he had failed to reconcile his wrangling colleagues. Meanwhile, the two opposition members of the group, including Seda Safarian appointed by the Heritage party, accused the Armenian authorities of deliberately sabotaging the probe to prevent further embarrassing revelations about their bloody suppression of opposition demonstrations sparked by the disputed presidential election of February 2008.


In its only report submitted to parliament in late April, the group disputed the official version of the death of Captain Hamlet Tadevosian, one of the two police servicemen killed in the violence. According to the law-enforcement authorities, Tadevosian was killed by an explosive device thrown by one of the protesters. The group’s report, signed only by Stepanian and the two pro-opposition members, effectively denied this assertion.


Late last month the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) regretted the dissolution of the bipartisan group. The PACE voiced its concerns that the investigation by prosecutors “has not yet led to any concrete results.”


“I very much regret that the fact-finding group failed to conduct full investigation into the circumstances of all deaths,” Kocharian told RFE/RL. “Had we been given time, we would have completed investigations into the deaths of other people as well.”


Kocharian urged the ad hoc parliamentary commission currently conducting a probe into the March 1-2, 2008 violence to use all the evidences provided by the group’s members in its final report due to be submitted at the end of September.


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One Comment;

  1. hye4life said:

    I am so tired of hearing about March 1, 2008 events. If there were any that type of unrest in any streets of Western countries, the government would have taken similar steps to bring order. The armenian opposition has to understand that. Right now there are much more pressing issues to deal with than what they (opposition) is trying to accomplish. In fact I think the word “accomplish” is probably overstatement when it comes to Armenian Apposition and its failed leader Levon Ter-Petrossian.