Gayane Abrahamyan

ArmeniaNow reporter
30.04.10 | 14:35

Suicide or murder?: Death controversy in the police department

A top-ranking police investigator has been charged in connection with
the suspicious and controversial death of suspect Vahan Khalafyan
who died in police custody in Charentsavan April 13.

According to Special Investigation Services, Ashot Harutyunyan, Head
of the Criminal Investigative Department of Charentsavan (about 40
kilometers north of Yerevan), is guilty of negligence in his role in
the 24-year-old's death - a charge that could result in 6-10 years

The investigation says Harutyunyan "applied violence, leading to
serious consequence". It also charges that Harutyunyan coerced
Khalafyan into confessing to theft.

Until now, police have maintained that Khalafyan killed himself with
a kitchen knife - stabbing himself twice in the abdomen while being

State Chief of Police Alik Sargsyan initially stated that Khalafyan
was questioned calmly, and that no violence was committed against him.

"No one laid a finger on him," Sargsyan assured.

Harutyunyan was detained according to violation of Criminal Code
engaging in "actions willfully committed by an official which obviously
exceeded his authorities, which negligently caused grave consequences
. . ."

The State Special Investigation Service also revealed that "several
employees of the police department witnessed violence committed
against Khalafyan."

In early this week, the International Federation of Human Rights
(FIDH), and Human Rights Watch international organization made a
statement on the case and Ombudsman of Armenia Armen Harutyunyan
appealed to investigate the case properly.

"This is not the first case when people go to the Police Department
and are taken out dead. . . . Some measure should be finally taken,"
the Ombudsman says.