Death of Vahe Avetyan should be qualified as a murder in aggravating circumstances


Interview with Lusine Hakobyan, the defense attorney presenting interests of legal successor of Vahe Avetyan who was beaten to death at “Harsnaqar” restaurant and other victims of the case

You and defense attorney Tig Yegoryan released number of statements where you talked about the violations during the pre-trial investigation. What were these violations and what kind of actions you have taken to overcome?

The violations were recorded from the very beginning when we tried to be involved as representatives of the victim’s legal successor Garnik Avetyan. We faced the obstacles then. Particularly, on July 10, when Garnik Avetyan received the appropriate warrants, we have submitted the application with the preliminary investigation body (Department of Investigation of the cases of particular importance of the RA Special Investigation Service –M.A.) and requested in behalf of Garnik Avetyan to recognize him as a legal successor to allow him to become a party to the legal proceedings and involve us in the case as his representatives. 

However, this process has been delayed. We have submitted the application on July 11 while the decision has been made on July 25 and only due to our persistence.

Do you believe this delay was deliberate?

Yes, there was deliberate and it became apparent when we have finally received the case materials. After the examination of the materials we have discovered that while our application was under the consideration number of essential investigation actions had been carried out. Thereby the delay was deliberate because in case of our involvement the RA Criminal Procedure Code provides with the possibility to take part in the investigative actions. However, we have been deprived of this possibility.

You had not possibility to get acquainted with the case materials. What was the obstacle?

We could not get acquainted with the case materials before Garnik Avetyan has been recognized a legal successor and we were involved as his representatives. Afterwards, “Demanding to punish all who are guilty in vendetta at “Harsnaqar” civil movement and “Vahe Avetyan” public movement organized protest actions with the demand to give us possibility to get acquainted with the case materials. As far as it was obvious that within this period serious procedural violations were allowed we demanded to give us the possibility to get acquainted with the case materials in corpore given the public importance and resonance around the case. However our request has not been satisfied, the materials were given on August 2 and only the part which we as representatives were entitled to have.

You have also mentioned that there were violations while announcing the completion of the preliminary investigation. What were the violations?

On August 8 it was rapidly announced about the end of the preliminary investigation. Late in the evening of the same day the investigator of the cases of particular importance handed over to us at our office three volumes of the case with the attached letter informing that we have one day to get acquainted with the case materials and then, on August 10, we are invited to the Department of the Investigation of the cases of particular importance to present our motions. One day was unrealistic for acquaintance, analysis and preparation of motions on important materials of this volume. We have released the statement where stated that even the fiction book of a smaller volume is not possible to read in one day and it is more complicated to read and examine special materials of bigger volume. We have filed a motion with the Department of Investigation of the cases of particular importance on August 9 and asked to give us reasonable deadlines. The same day initiative groups hold the protest actions but the investigator rejected the motion.

Nevertheless, you have managed to present the motions. How you have succeeded on a tight timetable and what was the decision of the investigator?

It was teamwork. Lawyers Vahe Grigoryan and Mher Arakyan joined us. They helped us to get acquainted with the materials and on August 10 around 20 motions were submitted with the investigation body. From now on Vahe Grigoryan along with us will act in the capacity of the legal successor’s representative. Afterwards, few hours later the investigator informed us that they have respected our motion and they gave 5 days until August 18 to get acquainted with the materials. We understood that our motions were serious and unexpected for them and they needed some time to work with the motions and this deadline was set up for the investigation group.

Five days later we have presented finalized motions and it was not a surprise that few hours later the motions were rejected.

You have stated that there were many breaches during the confirmation of the charges and submission with the court. What were these breaches?

On August 20 the investigator Ruben Mkrtchyan called us to pass the decisions on rejection of motions but we did not hear the call. Later he said that have sent the documents by post.

We received the decision on August 23. According to the Article 267 part 3 of the RA Criminal Procedure Code after the decision is received we have three days to submit the appeal if any with the Prosecutor’s Office. We have submitted our appeal with the Prosecutor’s Office the next day after receiving the decision. However, it appeared that the Prosecutor’s Office did not wait for our appeal and in violation of the norms of Criminal Procedure Code submitted the case with the court on August 23 and commented in media that there is a reference attached to the case confirming that the investigator requested that we  come and take the decision and we did not go, so they did not wait.

This is not true. Even if the things were like that, that would not justify such a working behavior. The Prosecutor’s Office should have been waiting until the end of the appeal date. This shows that the Prosecutor's Office is unwilling to supervise the case properly especially taking into account the fact that the response to our appeal we received later than it is provided by law.

In your opinion under what articles of the Criminal Code the committed crime should have been qualified?

We believe that the offence is qualified wrongly in part of the case concerning Vahe Avetyan. Examination of the case materials revealed that it should have been undoubtedly qualified as a murder committed under aggravating circumstances which is committed by a group of people or by an organized group, with particular cruelty, out of hooliganism (Article 104 part 2 of the RA Criminal Code). The results of forensic expertise and data recorded after the initial medical examination (equally widened pupils fixed by a middle line, absence of corneal reflexes, absence of reaction to pain, brain dislocation for up to 4cm. His diagnosis was diffuse axonal injury meaning death of his brain, i.e. full and irreversible interruption of the brain activity) show that from the very moment of Vahe’s transfer to hospital a death of the brain has been recorded. In the criminal law brain death is equal to death.

In the forensic conclusion it is mentioned that serious injuries have been recorded which were dangerous for life and in this case led to death. We have consulted with best experts in the area, neurosurgeons who told that in case of this diagnosis death is inevitable and the injuries were incompatible with life and not not led to death in this case.

We casted a doubt on the forensic conclusion and motioned to assign repeated expertise by the commission. The motion was disallowed.

Another circumstance is that the punches mainly were stroke to Vahe Avetyan’s head. The punches were extremely strong and for us it is obvious that those who beat were well aware that one of the consequences could be a death. Nevertheless, they stroke. This allows assuming that the committed crime should be qualified as a murder.

You demand to re-interrogate Ruben Hayrapetyan and check out the phone printouts in your other motion. What are the facts in the ground of this motion?

In his testimony Ruben Hayrapetyan mentioned that on the day of crime fulfillment he went to Sevan and around 7 pm was at «Harsnaqar». The printouts attached to the case materials clearly show that on that day five of the accused except for the waiter were in Sevan with R. Hayrapetyan and came back to «Harsnaqar». On the other hand we have 6 accused and working contracts with « Davit DVA» company (Legal entity of “Harsnaqar”) and we have doubts on the authenticity of these documents because the signatures of the accused in the contracts do not comply with the signatures which they have put in the case materials.

A question is raised:  if they are employees of « Harsnaqar» security service, how they could disregard their working obligations and accompany Ruben Hayrapetyan that day. There are different statements of the accused attached to the case that they do not work or work in Football Federation. While the waiter Davit Adamyan mentioned in his testimony that some of the accused are bodyguards and he confirmed this twice in the testimony. 

These facts allow assuming that these people were members of Ruben Hayrapetyan’s personal bodyguard. If so, why this fact could have been overlooked by the investigation group of the Department investigating crimes of particular importance? Why Ruben Hayrapetyan wasn’t asked about that when he was questioned as a witness?

Another important fact: Ruben Hayrapetyan in his testimony stated that he called Norayr Hayrapetyan and demanded him to clarify the details immediately after he learned about the incident from the Director Hrach Zohrabyan.  However in the end, answering the investigator’s question whether he is aware who did what he said that is not familiar with the details of the incident. The absence of such questions as: “You have contacted Norayr Hayrapetyan, what he had clarified?” etc posed by the investigator also raise suspicions. From the case materials it is clear that Ruben Hayrapetyan was at least aware and the accused by concealed the fact that they are his bodyguard tried to help him to avoid a criminal liability. 

You have mentioned number of violations during the pre-trial proceedings. However the case is already submitted with the court. What you are planning to do further?

We will present our motions at the court along with number of other motions as we receive much more information regarding the case. As attorney lawyers we do not have a right to step back and will use all the legal means which are available.

«Vahe Avetyan» Initiative group is planning to create a tribunal of public justice. Are you going to join the initiative?

We are not a part of this initiative. As lawyers we will try to lead our struggle within the institutions established by law and Constitution. While civil society is free to implement its ideas. Although they believe that state institutions are exhausted and are not capable to solve the issues.  

Do you believe it was a result of public pressure that Ruben Hayrapetyan put down his MP mandate?

Undoubtedly, it was a result of public pressure, I think. Our society has been changed significantly, the legal awareness is raised and I hope that this positive trend will be continued.

Do you think it is possible that Ruben Hayrapetyan take the resignation  until September 21?

I am confident that the public anger will be huge if he takes the resignation. I think he will realize the power of that anger as he did. However it is hard to make forecasts with Ruben Hayrapetyan. Meanwhile, I think the public will not allow this to happen.

The most important is disclosure of the case and if Ruben Hayrapetyan had incited the beating he will be subjected to the criminal liability.  

Interviewed Mary Alexanyan