Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

1 November 2004

Man Charged With Double Murder In Central Yerevan

By Ruzanna Stepanian

Armenian law-enforcement authorities have arrested a person who believe gunned down two other men in broad daylight in downtown Yerevan on Friday.

A senior police source told RFE/RL on Monday that the suspect, Stepan Sukasian, is an ethnic Armenian resident of the town of Akhaltsikhe in southern Georgia. He said investigators believe that the murder resulted from a two-year business dispute between Sukasian and one of the victims, Grigor Podosian.

Podosian, also an Akhaltsikhe resident, and his cousin Stepan Alikhanian were shot dead on a busy street corner in the city center. The Armenian police, the National Security Service and the Prosecutor-General’s Office launched a joint inquiry immediately after the shooting, underscoring its extraordinary character and public resonance.

The source said the investigators have found out that Sukasian and Podosian had underworld connections and first clashed over control of a lucrative bus service between Akhaltsikhe and Yerevan two years ago. Podosian is said to have stabbed and seriously wounded the arrested suspect in Moscow shortly afterward before fleeing to his hometown. Podosian was forced to leave Georgia’s Armenian-populated Javakheti region by Sukasian’s friends and found refuge in Yerevan, according to the police.

A statement released by the police later in the day said the two Georgian Armenians used to be "childhood friends" and that Sukasian was accompanied by three individuals "at the site of the incident." "Two of them have been tracked down and their participation in what happened is being clarified," the statement said without elaborating.

The police would not say if the suspect has admitted to the accusations.

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