Another Nephew Wanted for Weapons, Drugs and Looted Art Possession
YEREVAN—Former President Serzh Sarkisian’s nephew, Hayk Sarkisian, has emerged as a suspect in a 2007 attempted murder case, while another nephew, Narek Sarkisian, is wanted for possession of arms, illegal narcotics and looted art — specifically, a dozen drawings by famous Armenian painter, Martiros Saryan.
According to statements by Armenia’s National Security Service, the two separate cases were the focal point of an interrogation of the former president’s brother, Aleksander Sarkisian, who along with his son, Hayk, were taken into custody on Wednesday. Aleksander Sarkisian, who is known as “Sashik,” was released after being questioned. His son, Hayk, has been remanded as a suspect in the bizarre attempted murder case. His other son, Narek, who fled to Moscow late last month, is wanted on the possession charges.
Investigators on Thursday said that new evidence has surfaced in the 2007 attempted murder case, which was closed over a decade ago, prompting them to reopen the case in which Hayk Sarkisian has emerged as a suspect.
On April 1, 2007, Yerevan resident Davit Simonyan was shot on the corner of Tumanyan and Nalbandyan streets and was transported to a nearby clinic by a man identified as A. Ghevondyan. On the same day, Ghevondyan told police that he had inadvertently shot Simonyan because he mishandled a gun he claimed he found on the street. At the time, Ghevondyan brought the gun in question to the police.
The investigative committee said in its announcement Thursday that while proper investigative steps were taken at the time, the case was subsequently closed on the grounds that no charges were filed and the parties reached an agreement.
“Due to new circumstances that have emerged, on July 3, 2018, the prosecutor-general of the Republic of Armenia made a decision to re-open the 2007 criminal proceedings and forward the case to the Investigative Committee’s unit operating in Yerevan’s Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts. The same day, an investigator took up the case and launched other necessary investigative and procedural actions to clarify the circumstances of the case,” the Investigative Committee said.
The Investigative Committee said Thursday that the new evidence shows that Simonyan was not shot because of Ghevondyan’s “mishandling” of a weapon but rather deliberately by another person who fired the gun. The Investigative Committee identified Hayk Sarkisian, born in 1984, as the person who shot Simonyan with the “intent to kill.”
After being interrogated on Wednesday, Hayk Sarkisian was suspected of attempted murder in accordance to Armenia’s Criminal Code.
“The preliminary investigation is still ongoing,” the Investigative Committee said.
In a separate statement on Thursday, the NSS announced that the former president’s brother, Aleksander, was questioned on Wednesday over his other son, Narek’s, alleged criminal activities related to obtaining more than dozen Saryan drawings.
According to the NSS, Narek Sarkisian duped one of Martiros Saryan’s heirs into giving him 14 Saryan drawings worth $280,000, with a promise to pay him $28,000 and use the remaining sum to establish a casino for him and help it get off the ground. After taking possession of the drawings, Narek Sarkisian reneged on his promise and ignored the drawings’ owner’s pleas, refusing to return them.
The drawings were found Wednesday during a nine-hour raid of Aleksander Sarkisian’s residence. Aleksander Sarkisian told investigators that he had purchased the drawings. The person who filed the claim against Narek Sarkisian was present during a portion of Aleksander Sarkisian’s questions and asserted that Narek obtained them through deceptive means.
Investigators also found a two suitcases belonging to Narek Sarkisian, who had allegedly asked a friend to keep them in his apartment.
“The suitcases contained narcotic substances — cocaine and methamphetamine — four guns, one of them with a silencer, bullets, drugs of unknown origin, glass and plastic pipes with white and black traces, droppers that were most likely used for drugs and other items,” Thursday’s NSS statement said.
Last week, Aleksander Sarkisian and Serzh Sarkisian’s bodyguard, Vachakan Ghazaryan, were taken into custody on weapons possession charges. Aleksander Sarkisian was released shortly.
Last Wednesday, Ghazaryan was formally charged with illegally enriching himself, and an investigation into $2 million cash seized from him is still pending.
Late last week, Armenia’s State Revenue Committee launched criminal proceedings against Serzh Sarkisian’s other younger brother, Levon, and his family shortly after announcing that a company linked to Levon Sarkisian has been fined 800 million drams ($1.7 million) for tax evasion.