By Karine Kalantarian
The Armenian police have pledged to reopen investigations into unsolved major crimes committed in the past after being publicly subjected to harsh criticism by Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian.
“Our investigative and operational services have set up special groups tasked with investigating crimes committed in the past,” Hayk Militonian, head of the Criminal Investigations Department at the national Police Service, told RFE/RL on Wednesday.
“There is public demand for that,” he said. “We realize that leaving those crimes unsolved could give rise to new crimes.”
According to Armenia’s Office of Prosecutor-General, the police failed to solve 12 murders and 6 murder attempts last year. There are as many unsolved offences of this kind registered in 2003. Among them is the killing of a senior professor from Yerevan State University. Police investigators are expected to concentrate on those cases.
Armenia’s crime rate, as reported by official statistics, has been relatively low ever since the Soviet collapse. The law-enforcement authorities reported an almost 9 percent drop in the number of officially registered crimes last year.
However, Hovsepian openly questioned the credibility of those figures in a speech on February 18. He also decried widespread incompetence among police officers, saying that Armenian prosecutors have a hard trying to correct their blunders.
“Having insufficient skills and work experience, police investigators go to the site [of a crimes], fail to properly inspect it and then conduct a poor interrogation that fails to solve the crime,” he complained.
Hovsepian told fellow prosecutors to tighten their oversight of police inquiries and vowed to pay “special attention” to unsolved cases.