Beating soldiers in Mataghis military unit is something like drinking a glass of water, a habit of the hand, a usual thing. Some of the commanders are on trial, others are being under incestigation.

On March 7, 2018, the Court of First Instance of Syunik Marz of the Republic of Armenia sentenced to two years imprisonment Major Erik Khamperyan, resident of Mets Taghlar village, Hadrut region of Artsakh. Judge David Sargsyan, who is known for favorable to military commanders sentences, decided not to apply a sentence but to set a probation period of one year. Khamperyan was found guilty under Article 375 of the Criminal Code for inaction. The case was as follows.

On September 15, 2017, at about 9 pm, Senior Lieutenant Taron Harutyunyan and Private Gagik Hovhannisyan beat each other after a quarrel. Major Erik Khamperyan, who was the training battalion commander, did not report about the incident to the command of the unit or to the law enforcement instances. The quarrel arose from a widespread phenomenon in the army – swearing, or, in legal terms, general blasphemy.

The details of the case, the “object of blasphemy” and the content, even the sequence of actions, are not clearly stated in judge David Sargsyan’s verdict. This already casts doubt on the impartiality of the judge. It is not excluded that the judge deliberately made an incoherent verdict and that the private did not hit the officer at all, but instead assumed the crime after he was promised to get conditional sentence. Note that cases related to Mataghis military unit are mainly handled by the same judge, David Sargsyan, and the same prosecutor, Baris Bakhshiyan, from the third garrison, who was recently appointed judge.

It is understood from the verdict, however, that the cursing officer was the senior lieutenant, that ordinary Hovhannisyan striked the lieutenant’s head with glass on the table, causing a wound to the forehead, and senior lieutenant Harutyunyan punched the private Hovhanisyan in the head. For them, too, the court has imposed conditional sentences– four years for the private, one year in prison for his superior.

It should be noted that the judge imposed a relatively severe punishment on the ordinary. In December, Eric Khamperyan was released from prison on amnesty.

Two months later, however, a new case of violence against a soldier was recorded in the military unit by Chief of Staff of the training battalion Eric Khamperyan and other officers.

We have information that investigators in this case are currently looking for a witness who will dare to tell the story.

But there is an instruction by the military commander Armen Gyozalyan to keep silent.

A source close to the military unit informed us that the beaten soldier A. was a sergeant from Ararat province. He was demobilized in the end of July. A. was brutally beaten by several officers. He was thrown to the ground and was kicked by four people. The reason was that the officers of his training battalion “caught” him with a cigarette in his hand near the smoking space. The soldier did not manage to enter the ward yet. When the soldier tried to justify himself, they threatened telling things they would do with his mother in front of the troops. The soldier defended his parent, which was not forgiven him.

The officers used force to lynch him. The testimony of one eyewitness can be decisive, but people are afraid to speak. Four soldiers, A.’s fellow servicemen, told investigators how the incident happened. Later, however, under pressures from Commander Armen Gyozalyan and others, they changed their testimonies and wrote that A. also hit his superiors. He was also charged. The criminal case was opened on February 10. This information was told from the prosecutor’s office, confirming that A. had the status of a defendant, not a victim. Five people have been indicted.

Along with Major Eric Khamperyan, officers of Mataghis military unit Garnik Khachatryan, Harutyun Minasyan and Albert Khachatryan are also charged in this case. An informed source from the law enforcement system told us about it. The Ministry of Defense and the Prosecutor General’s Office refuse to specify the names. However, we expect the response of the Minister of Defense and the commander of Mataghis military unit Armen Gyozalyan on the psychological situation there and the criminal behavior of the officers in the unit. We continue to believe that a lair of crime has formed in the Mataghis military unit, a group of criminals, who, with the support of law enforcement agencies and the Ministry of Defense, remain unpunished.

P.S. Defense Minister David Tonoyan does not share our opinion. After our previous publication, the Ministry of Defense organized a demonstrative visit for journalists to Mataghis military unit. Prior to the visit, the area was cleaned and polished, special explanatory work was done with conscripts to keep their mouths shut, and our previous posting hero, Arthur Fahradyan, the deputy head of the Battalion, who likes to humiliate and severely punish soldiers, was given a few days leave and removed from the area so that the journalists do not see him. The journalists were accompanied by the head of the battalion headquarters Erik Khamperyan.

Syuzan Simonyan

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