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Four Arrested After Another Armenian Army Death

Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian (right) has personally pledged numerous times to strengthen army discipline in recent months.
YEREVAN -- The Armenian Defense Ministry says four military personnel have been arrested in connection with another noncombat death in the army, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Gevorg Kotinian, a 19-year-old conscript, was found dead on February 6 at an army unit stationed in the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Military investigators say he was beaten to death by fellow soldiers.

The Defense Ministry's Investigative Service said on February 11 that two of the arrested soldiers had been taken into custody and could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

A spokesman for the service told RFE/RL that their immediate commanders, a lieutenant and sergeant, have also been arrested.

He said they were being accused of "inactivity" and abuse of power.

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian was asked to comment on Kotinian's death during the government's question-and-answer session in parliament on February 9. He told lawmakers that he would do his best to ensure that the case was solved and all guilty servicemen were punished.

President Vows Action On Deaths

The deadly incident dealt a further blow to the military's assurances that it is combating army crime in earnest.

Ohanian has personally pledged numerous times to strengthen army discipline in recent months. Dozens of military personnel have been arrested, fired, or demoted since August.

Still, human rights groups and the families of dead soldiers continue to assert that military authorities are not doing enough to tackle the problem.

Late last month, President Serzh Sarkisian was publicly confronted by angry parents alleging a cover-up in the criminal investigations into the violent deaths of their sons.

Speaking to the protesters, Sarkisian promised to pay "special attention" to those inquiries. He said Armenia's new military prosecutor, Gevorg Kostanian, would meet with them and look into their grievances.