Ex-President Sarkisian’s Nephew Charged With Attempted MurderWednesday, July 11, 2018
A nephew of former President Serzh Sarkisian has been charged with attempting to kill a man in Yerevan more than a decade ago, an Armenian law-enforcement agency said on Wednesday.
The man, Davit Simonian, was shot and wounded in April 2007. Another Yerevan resident claimed at the time to have accidentally fired a bullet at Simonian from a pistol which he allegedly found lying in a street. The criminal case was closed shortly afterwards.
Armenia prosecutors ordered a renewed investigation into the incident earlier this month, citing “new circumstances” that have emerged lately. The Investigative Committee claimed on July 3 that in fact Simonian was shot by the ex-president’s nephew, Hayk Sarkisian, at the basement of the latter’s residence in the city center. Sarkisian was detained and held in custody for several hours the following day.
A spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee, Sona Truzian, said he has now been formally charged with attempted murder and illegal arms possession. Investigators have asked a court to allow them to keep him under pre-trial arrest, Truzian said.
It was not clear whether Hayk Sarkisian denies the charges. He was first detained immediately after officers of another law-enforcement agency, the National Security Service (NSS), searched his family’s vast apartment in downtown Yerevan.
Following the nine-hour search, the NSS issued an arrest warrant for Hayk’s elder brother Narek, who appears to have fled Armenia. It claimed that the latter asked one of his friends late last month to hide his illegally owned guns, cocaine and other drugs in a safer place.
According to the NSS, Narek flew to Moscow on June 22 together with his bodyguard, Artem Petrosian, who was also wanted by the investigators. A spokesman for the security agency told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Petrosian returned to Yerevan and turned himself in on Tuesday.
Hayk and Narek are the sons of Serzh Sarkisian’s brother Aleksandr, who is better known to the public as “Sashik.” He has repeatedly caused controversy in the past with his flamboyant behavior and insults addressed to critics of Armenia’s former governments.
Aleksandr Sarkisian, who is thought to have made a big fortune in the past two decades, spent several hours in police custody on June 25 on suspicion of illegal arms possession. He was again briefly detained during the NSS’s July 4 raid on his luxury residence.
Also facing prosecution is the ex-president’s second brother, Levon Sarkisian. He and his daughter were charged with “illegal enrichment” after tax inspectors discovered in late June that they hold millions of dollars in undeclared deposits at an Armenian bank.
A Yerevan court issued an arrest warrant for Levon Sarkisian on Saturday. He has still not been arrested, however, suggesting that he may have fled the country.
Serzh Sarkisian, who governed Armenia from 2008-20018, has not yet publicly commented on the criminal proceedings launched against his close relatives.