Vardan Petrosyan: "What is 4-10 years, if inwardly I have already sentenced myself to life?"
Excerpts of a recent Hetq interview with actor Vardan Petrosyan
On October 20, 2013 Vardan Petrosyan was involved in an automobile accident in Armenia and was seriously injured. After being treated in a Yerevan hospital, Petrosyan was charged with "negligent breach of traffic rules, which causes death" and was taken into custody. He’s now into his second month of pre-trial detention.
Vardan, how are you doing? How’s your health?
I’m doing all right. The critical stage has passed.
Do you know that they brought me to the detention center from the court on a stretcher? When they put me to bed in the cell, I saw a bunch of people wearing black. They were convicts. They huddled around the bed and started to talk and joke with me. They offered me some wonderful tea with beeswax. Amazingly, they got me to my feet in 15 minutes. Even the doctors were surprised.
The court process took ten hours. There was a doctor there with me the whole time, just in case I took a turn for the worse. Remember, they had brought me from the hospital. I hadn’t eaten for 10-12 hours; just a bit of chocolate for stamina. Here, I am under constant medical supervision.
What would you say about the October 20 accident?
I should have died, and not those two kids. But if God saved me, then I have an obligation to live a different life, a much more spiritual existence. This incident opened a spiritual door for me, which will be reflected in my professional and social work. That break has already happened.
After the accident, many in the press and social websites became judge and jury. Was it your fame that attracted all this commentary?
Sure, it’s natural that my fame raised all this talk. The initial arguments for and against me, the charges and counter-charges, the events of the pre-trial examination, really weren’t helpful; and many were offended.
My detainment was abnormally swift. To drag me to the court in that condition… People got turned off by what they saw and launched a drive to support me. Naturally, this show of support for me also emotionally impacted the family who had just lost their children.
What is taking place on the surface is concealing what exists deep down. I think more about what’s deep down. My thoughts are quite removed from the judge and the trial. Before trading charges, we must stop and realize the tragedy of what happened.
On the fifth or sixth day, they told me that two young boys had died and that another had survived. My first wish was to go to that family’s house and share their pain, their agony because I was involved in what happened.
Sadly, after being released from the hospital, they immediately arrested me. My friends went to that family’s house and expressed their condolences on my behalf. But they also placed a speech restriction on me. The family, understandably, didn’t want to hear my name.
I though some time needed to pass for emotions to subside. But the opposite is happening. We have started to find fault with one another. What good will this bring? How will it help that young girl who has undergone serious surgery and needs medical care?
I really wanted to help out. I have a doctor friend in the States who offered to help. May God be my witness, I have assisted many families in times of grief and pain, comforting them, but surprisingly in this case all the doors before me have been shut. What can I do?
I understand that grief to the extent that it can be grasped. I don’t know, but can they understand me to the same extent? For I too am being tormented. I too feel guilty before the eyes of that family. Guilt is a horrible feeling.
But, on the same note, didn’t I need some degree of help as well? When you persecute someone, dragging him to account, and in a semi-conscious state, he starts to defend himself. Wasn’t that self-defense on my part natural? Why does it surprise some people? And this mutual self defense has lead to throwing stones at one another.
This pre-trial investigation will result in a trial in which I face 4-10 years imprisonment. So what is an additional two months of detention? What is 4-10 years, if inwardly I have already sentenced myself to life? Isn’t all of this a joke? We are stealing two months from one another and this makes us happy. Are there actually people out there who derive some pleasure from this? That is nothing for me.
My attitude to the family who lost their kids is totally different from that which I display before the court. In court, I have the answers to all the questions. But before reaching the court, I would like to see another meeting, another interview, in order to share the grief with the families. I recount the biblical words – I want charity, not a victim. But we are heading on the path of new victims.
A tragedy has occurred, and I was there at the fateful moment. It could have been anyone else. But conditions were such that it was me. I will carry that pain and torment for the rest of my life. I accept this. Hardships are for people to endure. God inflicts hardships on man to the extent that he or she can endure them; not more. I do not reject the amount of privation that has befallen me.