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Four Arrested In Probe Of Armenian Officer's Death

Lieutenant Artak Nazarian's family believes he was killed by fellow soldiers.
Lieutenant Artak Nazarian's family believes he was killed by fellow soldiers.
YEREVAN -- The Armenian Defense Ministry said four servicemen have been arrested in connection with last week's death of a junior army officer, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Military investigators have acknowledged that Lieutenant Artak Nazarian was ill-treated by at least one fellow officer and soldiers of his unit stationed in the northeastern Tavush region, which borders Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The soldiers insisted, nonetheless, that Nazarian shot himself while on combat duty on July 27.

The Defense Ministry statement said a criminal investigation into the incident, which has shocked many Armenians, was being conducted under an article of the Criminal Code that deals with "inducing suicide" through violence and humiliation.

One of the reported detainees is Captain Hakob Manukian, a deputy commander of the battalion in which Nazarian had served since November.

The ministry statement said Manukian is suspected of beating up and humiliating the 30-year-old officer in a way that led to "severe consequences."

The Defense Ministry said the three other detainees, all of them conscripts, also assaulted Nazarian. No further details were reported.

None of the four men has been formally charged. The charge that could be leveled against Manukian carries between three and eight years in prison, while the three soldiers face up to 12 years in prison.

Nazarian's relatives say a forensic examination of his body showed numerous injuries to his face, hands, shoulders, and feet, which they believe were inflicted hours before the shooting.

They reiterated on August 4 their belief that Nazarian did not shoot himself but rather was killed by other servicemen.