“On the first day, they announced that he was killed with an enemy bullet. In a couple of days, they said that a citizen of the Artsakh Republic fired a citizen of the Republic of Armenia. It comes out that Artsakh is our enemy,” says Derenik Mkrtchyan, the father of the killed soldier Aghasik Mkrtchyan from the Getashen village of Armenia.

Aghasik’s father speaks angrily, crossly. After the death of his son, he went to the scene and discovered that the investigator, the leadership of the military unit, the Defense Ministry officials, all of them were trying to deceive him. The words of his son’s fellow servicemen, the investigator, and the leaders of the military unit do not match; moreover, they contradict one another.

The junior sergeant Aghasi Mkrtchyan was serving in a military unit called “Internats” in the Martakert region of Artsakh. This is one of the worst military units in terms of discipline where criminal incidents often occur.

Mkrtchyan was killed on September 26. This is what follows from the statement of the Artsakh Defense Army, although no official data on the murder of the soldier is accurate. The family suspects that Aghasi has died sooner because the body was already decaying.

On September 27, the official figures of Artsakh reported false information. NKR President Bako Sahakyan’s spokesman David Babayan announced that the serviceman was killed while defending his homeland and Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan posthumously awarded him with the “Battle Service” medal.

In a few days the investigative committee found out that the sergeant was not killed by the enemy, but by his fellow serviceman. The offender is detained and charged with violation of the Article 365, Part 3 of the RA Criminal Code “Breach of the rules of combat duty or military service,” which caused grave consequences. The Code envisages three to eight years of imprisonment for this crime. “The killer of my son will be freed in three years,” says Derenik Mkrtchyan. According to the official version of the investigation, which was presented to the parents, the sergeant was killed as a result of misunderstanding. He went to the border for observation, returned, cleaned his weapon, then went back again. A soldier in the trench has asked for the password, Aghasi did not say it, and the serviceman opened fire. “There were eighteen bullets in my boy’s body, the investigator collected only eight, they did not find the rest,” says the father.

He has received many controversial and contradictory information. First, the father was informed that his son died at the hospital at 21:20 pm. However, as he went to Artsakh, he found out that Aghasi did not manage to reach the hospital and had died on the way to the hospital. The father was told that the fellow had fired at his son from about 20 meters distance. The father entered the trench, measuring the distance with his own hands, and found out that his son got the deadly gunshots at a distance of one and a half meters.

“How could the soldier not recognize his friend from one and a half meters away from him?” asked the victim’s mother, Magda Mkrtchyan. This one-and-a-half-meters immediately challenges the official version, potentially making the version of the deliberate murder. There were other lies too. For instance, they tried to present a recorded video in the daytime as footage of Aghasi Mkrtchyan’s death.

We asked the spokesman of the Artsakh President David Babayan where he had received information that sergeant Mkrtchyan had been killed by the enemy so that they even rewarded the sergeant posthumously. We heard a surprising response. “When there is a reward, then there is a basis; we do not get deeper, there are things we should not publish.”

We contacted the garrison’s investigator. He mentioned a third number; the fire in the direction of the sergeant came not from 20 meters, and not from one and a half, but from three meters. He did not give further information, advising to get satisfied with the information provided by the Investigative Committee. “The volume of accusation has not changed, it is the same — violation of the rules of combat duty. We take actions to conduct an objective investigation,” said the investigator.

Magda and Derenik were expecting for their son to come home for vacation. His time to get vacation was long due, but they did not allow him to take it. “The boy said that soldiers had to “deal with right people” to get it, and he tried to find someone, but could not. He did not come but was brought home, swollen, naked, covered in rags, and his body smelled… Now, who can I ask my son from?” the father says and the words get clogged in his throat.

Syuzan Simonyan

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