YEREVAN — Former chief of the Armenian Police’s Criminal Investigation Department Hovhannes Tamamian has been sentenced to four years in prison at the end of a high-profile trial in which he was convicted of covering up a murder.
Two other senior police officers arrested as part of the same criminal case got off with suspended 2.5-year-prison sentences and walked free.
Yerevan’s Kentron and Nork-Marash Court on Friday also ruled that the major-general of the police must be kept away from senior posts in state and local government bodies for a period of two years.
A Yerevan court found Tamamian guilty of abuse of power that was committed for “mercantile or other motives” and led to “severe consequences.”
The case mainly stems from a murder committed in Yerevan in 2010. State prosecutors say police investigators overseen by Tamamian deliberately did not prosecute the murder perpetrator and charged another individual instead at the request of Levon Sargsian, a controversial businessman and parliament deputy linked with the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
“I didn’t expect such a verdict and believe that the judicial act is unfair,” Tamamian’s lawyer, Vaghinak Gevorgian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) after the announcement of the ruling. He said he will consult with his client before deciding whether to appeal it.
The police general had for years been one of Armenia’s most controversial law-enforcement officials. He is thought to have played a major role in police crackdowns on the opposition that were ordered by former President Robert Kocharian in 2004 and 2008.
Armenian human rights groups have also implicated Tamamian in the death of a man questioned at the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations in 2007. The police claimed at the time that Levon Gulian fell to his death while attempting to escape from a second-floor interrogation room. Gulian’s relatives rejected that theory, saying that the 30-year-old was beaten to death while being interrogated by Tamamian.