Ex-Chief of Security: Siradeghyan should have a chance to prove his innocence in court

Ex-Chief of Security: Siradeghyan should have a chance to prove his innocence in court


The head of security guards of former minister of internal affairs, writer and publicist Vano Siradeghyan has revealed some details about Siradeghyan’s escape from Armenia 12 years ago.

During the press conference he gave on Wednesday Suren Sirunyan declared that he was the last one to see the former minister when he accompanied him at midnight of April 4, 2000.

“Late that day Vano Siradeghyan was sitting in front of the All-Armenian Movement headquarters. He had sent home all of his friends. Nobody knew he wasn’t going to be in the country the next day, even I didn’t. As always we accompanied him home with two [security] vehicles. He told me to accompany him with my personal car, and told the second car not to enter the courtyard. I started understanding what was happening, because I had always been by his side. Vano was someone I would understand no matter what. Reaching home he got into my car and we left the courtyard together. I signaled to the guys [security guards] in the yard, making them believe that Siradeghyan was home,” recalls Sirunyan.

He says that at the time Siradeghyan’s apartment on Myasnikyan avenue, downtown Yerevan, was under full surveillance. There were also suspicious-looking vehicles in the area, but he successfully maneuvered past them and dropped off Siradeghyan by Sundukyan theater and left.

“Ever since that day Siradeghyan hasn’t been in Armenia. He got out of the car, forgot to take his hat, looked into my face and said: ‘Please, I am asking you to all be together, never think about anything. My hands are clean,’ says Sirunyan, adding that Siradeghyan left Armenia because he couldn’t prove his innocence under the kind of judicial system Armenia had back then.

In 1998, a criminal case was filed against Siradeghyan (Karabakh Committee member since 1988, president of All-Armenian Movement from 1997 to 2000, and member of parliament from 1996 to1999), for organizing a number of planned murders. In 2000, the parliament stripped Siradeghyan of his diplomatic immunity and then of his parliamentary mandate. The same year (2000) he fled from Armenia and has been wanted by international intelligence (Interpol) ever since.

Siradeghyan has been charged with almost a dozen articles of the Criminal Code. Among other things, he is accused of forming an armed criminal group (the “Armen Ter-Sahakyan gang”) during his tenure as Minister of Internal Affairs, in the summer of 1992; of armed assault, and of assassination of individual citizens and officials.

Sirunyan has not joined the Yelk initiative because, he says, he has always made efforts together with his friends to make Siradeghyan’s return possible. Nonetheless, he believes the initiative will have its effect. (A social network group calling itself “Yelk” – meaning exit or way out -- has initiated a petition seeking Siradeghyan’s return, and a number of politicians and intellectuals have joined it.)

Last week deputy chief of police Hunan Poghosyan declared that if Siradeghyan returns he will be detained and jailed, as he is wanted by international intelligence.

“I am all for him standing in a courtroom and answering all the questions related to the criminal charges against him. I’d like it if Vano Siradeghyan could come back not out of some pity allowing him to spend his last years in his motherland, but rather go through a court trial. And it would have to be an exceptional trial with exceptionally fair judges,” says Sirunyan, adding that as Siradeghyan’s chief of security he has never been called to testify or to be questioned.

He is convinced that Siradeghyan’s presence would bring only positive changes, basing his judgment on previous experience.

“Siradeghyan is one of the founder’s of this country, someone who was the Minister of Internal Affairs and during his tenure there were no “thieves-in-law”, there were no “zone keepers” at penitentiary institutions. If you recall what was happening in 1994-95 all around the republic: gunshots could be heard constantly, there even were human casualties because of random shots, and Siradeghyan’s merit is that he was able to put an end to all of that.”