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Edik Baghdasaryan

Police Arrest Suspect in Murder of American-Armenian Businessman Nazaret Berberian

RoA police have arrested Petros Temiryan as a suspect in the murder of Nazaret Berberian, a prominent American-Armenian businessman who went missing in Yerevan on April 25, 2009. Mr. Berberian's partially decomposed body was located on May 15, buried in a roadside ditch along the Yerevan-Sevan highway. Petros Temiryan, a 35 unemployed acquaintance of the murder victim, is charged with the strangulation death of Mr. Berberian. Five years ago, Mr. Temiryan was arrested and sentenced on a "lewd behavior" charge involving a minor.

According to Ashot Karapetyan, Kentron Division Police Chief, the murder had nothing to do with business, as previously suspected but rather a case of robbery. "The murder was directly linked to the theft of money and valuables owned by Mr. Berberian. The value of the items taken was about $10,000," Chief Karapetyan told "Hetq". Police Chief Karapetyan has informed "Hetq" that the murder was premeditated and planned out in detail. He said that a narcotic drug was used to dope Mr. Berberian by Petros Temiryan who had gone to the businessman's house with the intent to rob and murder him. Mr. Temiryan stole an amount of cash and gold from the apartment, along with clothes and personal items, including the victim's laptop, to make it appear that Mr. Berberian had left Armenia on business. Surprisingly, Mr. Temiryan accompanied another acquaintance of Mr. Berberian to the Kentron Police Station on April 28 to file a missing persons report. At the time, the murder suspect told the acquaintance not to worry since he had spoken to Mr. Berberian on the day he went missing and that the businessman told him he was entertaining out of town guests and that he'd be out of touch for awhile. Mr. Temiryan is also reported to have said that Mr. Berberian told him not to try to contact him while he was busy. The police state that this was also part of Mr. Temiryan's ruse to throw them off the scent. According to the Kentron police Mr. Temiryan tried to minimize the businessman's disappearance by telling them that, "Hey, he's an ordinary guy. Maybe he went to Lori Marz or somewhere else. You know, he's a womanizer who likes to spend time with the girls." Mr. Temiryan also spread the word amongst the missing businessman's friends that Mr. Berberian owned property in Belgium and that he might have gone there on business. Police Chief Karapetyan also reported that the suspect had great difficulty in recounting how he committed the murder. He said the suspect was stricken more with a sense of shame regarding his foul deed rather than terrified at the heavy sentence, possibly life imprisonment, which he'd face if he confessed. The suspect finally lead police to where the body of Mr. Berberian had been buried. The police excavated the site and found material evidence, a towel, linking the unrecognizable corpse to Mr. Berberian. Mr. Berberian's body is still in Armenia. Relatives of the slain businessman had DNA testing on the body carried out with the assistance of the U.S. government. Police Chief Karapetyan confirmed this with "Hetq". "Yes, they ordered a DNA test through U.S. officials. As the legal next of kin they have every right to do so. But, there is no doubt that the body is that of Nazaret Berberian. Our own tests prove it and then the suspect led us to the body." In the end, it is hard to believe that Petros Temiryan acted alone. "Hetq" was able to learn that after Mr. Berberian went missing his credit card was used by his abductor(s) to make purchases at SAS supermarket and other stores with the intent of selling the items on the cheap to make some cash. Nazaret Berberian's sister Nuritsa, who resides in the United States, has her doubts that theft was the prime motive behind her brother's murder. During our phone conversation she told me, "Keep track of who tries to take control of the hotel. Follow those leads." At the time of his disappearance, Mr. Berberian was building a hotel, estimated to be worth $20 million, in downtown Yerevan. He was facing some problems connected to the site itself. Mr. Berberian's company "Lil-Nar" only signed a contract with the Yerevan Municipality for 50% of the land.