YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Former Internal Troops Commander–now defendant in the Vano Siradeghian case Vahan Haroutiunian wound up his testimony in court Monday.
According to the defendant–on learning about the imminent threat to then Defense Minister Vazgen Sargssian–he–together with several other persons–decided to go to Armen Ter-Sahakian’s summer cottage to avert the danger. Later it became clear that Armen Ter-Sahakian was under arrest along with 28 other people. Haroutiunian declined to respond to the summons of law enforcement agencies for interrogation on 30 or 31 January 1998 in connection with the incidents when the car of presidential security guards chief Romen Ghazarian came under fire.
On January 31 or February 1–Sargssian received Haroutiunian following the latter’s request. After a long talk–Haroutiunian saw that there had been no and could not have been any state instruction or decision regarding the attempt on the life of Armenian International Assembly Chairman Serge Jilavian as well as the murder of Karen Rafaelian and Artur Hovhannissian. Vazgen Sargssian had given assurance that in terms of impartiality Haroutiunian had nothing to worry about as far as he had his [Sargssian’s] guarantees. Stressing that everybody must answer for their deeds–Sargssian said that Haroutiunian should not have doubts on that account and that if he had fears–the "Ministry of Defense would be his life jacket."
Vahan Haroutiunian expressed readiness to carry the truth to the last regardless of the future fate of the case–saying that he could give testimony regarding the rumors about the Internal Troops that started to circulate in the aftermath of the failed attempt on Serge Jilavian’s life and attempted murder of Head of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Investigation Department Vladimir Grigorian. Vazgen Sargssian said he himself knew more than Vahan Haroutiunian.
Haroutiunian informed Artsrun Margarian of his meeting with the defense minister. At that time Margarian was in the hospital after being shot in the legs. Margarian said Haroutiunian shouldn’t have told Sargssian about everything as it might work against them in the future. Vahan Haroutiunian–nevertheless–said he trusted Vazgen Sargssian–expressing his readiness to the law enforcement agencies to give testimony on every circumstance known to him.
In answer to the question put by attorney Ruben Balabanian–Vahan Haroutiunian said that the pistol with a silencer issued during the planning of the attempt on Serge Jilavian’s life was transferred to the group of Armen Ter-Sahakian by Vano Siradeghian himself and was used by members of the group.
Meanwhile–during the confrontation with him–Vano Siradeghian alleged that the pistol confiscated from one of the senior Russian officers at a Russian military unit stationed in Balahovit had not left his fire-proof safe until he–Siradeghian–resigned as Interior Minister. According to Siradeghian–after he stepped down–the pistol was handed over to Serge Sargssian.
Before the court session began–Vano Siradeghian’s lawyer Vanya Sukiassian petitioned that the trial be postponed until a verdict in the Armen Ter-Sahakian case was passed and that the presence of victim Serge Jilavian–other victims or their representatives be ensured after the resumption of this trial and that the documen’s characterizing Jilavian and the reference on his conviction be added up to the case materials. His client- Vano Siradeghian was against the postponement of the trial–saying that he was interested in a speedy trial
The court partly satisfied the petition–deciding to add the documen’s describing the person of Serge Jilavian to the case materials.
Victim Karen Rafaelian’s father–Mais Rafaelian–said the victims did not feel protected. He said that the relatives of the slain Chairman of the Ashtarak Regional Executive Committee Hovhannes Sukiassian had been interrogated and pressured with threats–and that is why they did not attend court sessions.
Tuesday–former ANM Board member–Leader of the "Armat" public organization–Babken Ararktsian refused to comment on the statemen’s made during the court hearings in the Vano Siradeghian case.
We would remind you that in testifying at the hearings–former commander of the Internal Troops Vahan Haroutiunian said that a number of murders Vano Siradeghian and he are charged with were committed under the decision of a "separate group" of the then ruling party–ANM.