Mher Yenokyan Should Not Be Punished: How Not To Make Mistakes When Putting A Comma

Lilit Avagyan


The news of the possibility of Mher Yenokyan being pardoned for the murder of Medical Institute student Iosif Aghajanov on July 12, 1996, made this 23 year-old-crime one of the main topics in the media.

Materials regarding the case began to spread across the press, which contradicting content and headlines.

10 thousand dollars for reopening the case? Discussions surrounding Mher Yenokyan’s freedom continue,” “Mher Yenokyan is not guilty: Zaruhi Mejlumyan,” “It is not possible that I, my children, my grandchildren live in the same city as that monster: Mikhayik Aghajanov on Mher Yenokyan”…  

According to the Supreme Court’s November 29, 1996 judgement, the other suspect, Aram Harutyunyan, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, Mher Yenokyan was sentenced to death, which was later changed to a life sentence.

How was the issue covered by the media? They presented the viewpoints of the parties, interviews with family members of the murdered student, interviews were taken with Mher Yenokyan’s wife, journalist, lawyer Zaruhi Mejlumyan. They present the opinions of some of those individuals or groups who are morally supportive of the parties: doctors who are sympathetic towards the victim’s side are collecting signatures, protests against Mher Yenokyan’s release, another group of intellectuals gathering in defense of the re-evaluation of the case…

Interviews and reports create many new questions that could be answered via an independent journalistic investigation.

A letter by Mikhail Aghajanov, the father of Iosif Aghajanov, was published in the press, where he justifies why according to his opinion (as well as the court decision) Mher Yenokyan is a murderer.

The Press also published Mher Yenokyan’s letter written several years ago where he argues that the murderer is Aram Haruttyunyan, not himself.

In the letter, by the way, the following circumstance is mentioned, “On that tragic day, when the three of us were sitting in Aram’s bedroom, Aram’s sister brought juice and fruit…”

Mher Yenokyan’s wife, Zaruhi Mejlumyan, who has been dealing with Mher Yenokyan and other life-term prisoners for many years, says in her recent interviews that Mher Yenokyan had not killed Iosif Aghajanov and the case has to be revisited as it is based on one person’s testimony, which has been changed four times.

There are other people in this case whose information should be interesting to media outlets. In her interviews Mrs. Meljumyan also mentions another journalist, Julieta Amirkhanyan who was involved in Mher Yenokyan’s case.

“I get a call from Mrs. Julieta Amirkhanyan, a journalist who was acquainted with the case 22 years ago and was covering it, and she said ‘I was offered money to create a program against Mher and they said that they had suspicions that Mher Yenokyan will be released soon,’” (from the 7:45 minute mark).

Zaruhi Mejlumyan also mentioned that “Aram Harutyunyan’s father and uncle had changed testimonies and gave the testimony of some weird briefcase about some strange powder,” (from the 19:59 minute mark).

In other words, there are people who ought to be talked to in order for the case to be made more understandable for viewers and readers. Up till now, there is no news about the other suspect, Aram Harutyunyan, who has been in prison for eight years. Have attempts been made to meet him and invite him to an interview? Have journalists shown interest in their colleague’s, Julieta Amirkhanyan’s, professional opinion on the case?  

Mher Yenokyan mentions that Aram Harutyunyan’s sister was also at home during that “unfortunate day.” Have any attempts been made to speak to Harutyunyan’s sister when she is a key witness?

Zaruhi Mejlumyan hints at Aram Harutyunyan’s father and uncle who have changed their testimony, referring to “some kind of briefcase with powder, perhaps drugs…”

The media have tried to find these people and talk to them. In any case, there are no such publications in the media. Without the answers to these and many other questions, the solution of this public issue can be extremely difficult, even explosive, in both cases of either: if after the positive attitude of the Ministry of Justice results in the pardoning of the convict and the Prime Minister agrees to pardon Mher Yenokyan, or in the case of refusing the petition for a pardon.

Lilit Avagyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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