Lori Regional Prosecutor Karen Shahbazyan directed units of the Tumanyan police to conduct an investigation regarding illegal logging after Hetq first broke the story on August 2 (Who's Behind Large-Scale Logging in Jiliza?).
An investigative team was duly organized and Lieutenant Colonel Ashot Titanyan was appointed to head it.
The team later filed a report stating that there was no need to launch a criminal case.
But the report filed is full of holes. Not only was the team unaware that it is prohibited to transport lumber for fuel from the forest without a permit, it seems their investigation merely included a visit to the Jiliza and Dsegh forest wardens’ offices where they were given copies of said permits.
In the original August 2 Hetq article, we reported that the men cutting down trees failed to provide any identification or papers.
“We are private contractors and can't say anything more,” they told Hetq reporters at the time.
Another bunch of loggers a bit further up the road told Hetq reporters that they were out picking raspberries. The fact that we spotted newly cut trees alongside the road and in the back of their truck made us more than suspicious. We even spotted the portable electric tree saw they were using.
This group also couldn’t produce any permits.
Hetq also reported that no one from the forestry office was anywhere to be seen while all this was taken place. These guys were logging the forest without a care in the world.
At the time, Jiliza Forestry Service Director Aram Baroyan stated that “the hapless warden, just a young guy, ran off after spotting the reporters.”
Tom Matevosyan, the Chief Forestry Warden for the Lorout District, told Hetq and other reporters that the required transportation permits were back at the Dsegh Office and suggested that we go and take a look.
When we agreed, Matevosyan withdrew the offer.
In its draft report, the police investigative team noted that “sanitary pruning and general maintenance” was being carried out in Jiliza and Dsegh as directed by the Director of the ArmForest State Agency.
The report fails to explain what relevance the sanitary pruning ordered by ArmForest has with the transportation of lumber without proper permits.
It seems to us that Lieutenant Colonel Ashot Titanyan based his report solely on testimony given by the forestry wardens and officials responsible for the infractions in the first place.