This is the continuation of the story involving the murder of 26 year-old taxi driver Galust Melkonyan (top photo) who left his house in the Erebouni neighborhood of Yerevan on November 17, 2011 and never returned.
21 year-old Hakob Buniatyan, a resident of Yerevan’s Ajapnyak district, later confessed to the crime, but the dead man’s mother, Anahit Melkonyan, doesn’t believe he was the killer.
“He’s a victim just like my son,” she told Hetq, adding that at the time of the crime Buniatyan had no parents and was thus defenseless and used as a pawn to take the blame for the killing.
In an attempt to find out more about Hakob Buniatyan, Hetq went to the house where he lived in a one room apartment since the age of fourteen. The door was locked.
Neighbors appeared and when I told them I was writing an article about Buniatyan they requested that I do whatever I could to get to the truth and thus help Hakob. They recounted that Hakob was always helping out people in the building, carrying their heavy packages and other things.
Hakob Buniatyan (aravot.am)
One neighbor, Mrs. Sveta told me that she had organized a petition for Hakob during his trial.
A girl who had grown up with Hakob in the same courtyard wept when she talked about her former friend.
“He was a calm, modest and intelligent man. We never believed he was capable of knifing someone. He doesn’t belong in jail,” said the woman who wished to remain anonymous.
Mrs. Zhena, another building resident, also told me about Hakob and how he grew up without parents.
“I get all emotional when I remember him. He had no one to help him; no father or mother. He never bothered anyone. He worked in a carwash, a gas station and a furniture factory from the age of fourteen. Law enforcement should have placed him in some care institution where he could learn a trade,” Mrs. Sveta told me and agreed that the young man was probably forced to confess to the murder.
In his testimony, Hakob Buniatyan said that he had never quarreled with the murder victim Galust Melkonyan and that he never even knew him.
He got involved in the quarrel that took place between the Rafayelyan brothers (Vladimir and Mikayel) and Melkonyan when the former phoned him and asked him to join them on the night in question.
In court, Buniatyan stated that he had knifed Melkonyan but that it was in self-defense. This was contrary to his pre-trial testimony when Buniatyan accepted his guilt under Article 112 of the RA Criminal Code – Infliction of willful serious damage to health.
|Hakob Buniatyan’s former apartment|
I met Galust Melkonyan’s mother Anahit a second time at the Kentron and Nork Marash Administrative Court where she was attending an unrelated trial of Vladimir Rafayelyan. (Vladimir and his brother Mikayel were found guilty of battery in the Galust Melkonyan case).
At this trial, Vladimir had been charged with battery again. As a result, Gevorg Mouradyan, the victim lost sight in one eye due to punch.
Anahit Melkonyan told me she saw a connection between her son’s case and this one. She said that it proves that Vladimir Rafayelyan is prone to fighting.
Rafayelyan has been formally charged with “the infliction of willful serious damage to health, with hooligan motives”, and has been place under pre-trial detention.
The trial has been postponed for a change of judges.