Vardan Petrosyan Declares Innocence: “The Niva backed up into traffic and I couldn’t swerve away in time”
Today’s session at the Kotayk Court of General Jurisdiction signaled the end of the preliminary phase of the case of the Oct. 20, 2013 car accident involving actor Vardan Petrosyan in which two sixteen year old boys were killed and four others were injured, including Petrosyan.
Family members of the boys who died did not appear in court, arguing in a letter to the judge that the defense would continue presenting motions and that, in all likelihood, the actual trial wouldn’t be getting underway.
Ruben Baloyan, the attorney representing the family, made a statement regarding motions made at the previous court session by Petrosyan’s attorney Nikolai Baghdasaryan. Baloyan argued that portions of evidence not fully investigated had been published and that this was impermissible.
Even before the session got underway, Baghdasaryan presented a number of motions mainly dealing with the attachment to the case files of responses made by certain state agencies to questions he had posed. The defense did not oppose such an attachment, saying that it would refer to this material at a later date.
Also not opposing such an attachment was state prosecutor Artur Sargsyan. The court thus allowed the attachment of the new material presented by Baghdasaryan in addition to four photos taken by photo-journalist Gagik Shamshyan. (The photos show the tire tracks made by the BMW driven by Vardan Petrosyan, leading one to conclude that the accident didn’t occur on the road’s shoulder.)
Photo, taken from the right side, of Petrosyan’s BMW after the accident
In particular, Baghdasaryan had asked the Kotayk Regional Governor if the scene of the accident, along the 2nd kilometer stretch of the Yerervan-Yeghvard highway, is considered within the municipal boundaries of Yeghvard or not.
The attorney wanted to ascertain what the speed limit along this stretch of roadway is – the Yeghvard town limit of 60 kilometers per hour, or 90 kilometers. According to the answer he received, the accident site wasn’t within town boundaries. Baghdasaryan then noted that the indictment against Petrosyan stated that the actor had been driving at a minimum speed of 71 kilometers per hour, a permissible speed.
Attorney Baghdasaryan also said he had posed the same question to the mayor of Yeghvard since there are no road signs marking the town’s municipal borders. Baghdasaryan says he was told that the accident occurred one kilometer outside the town’s border.
Baghdasaryan then presented the answers he received to questions posed to Viva Cell and the Yeghvard mayor regarding a charge in the indictment that Petrosyan had used his cell phone while driving. Baghdasaryan said that according to their answers, a cell phone antenna located 4.4 kilometers distant from the scene of the accident serviced a call made by Petrosyan at 10:10pm.
At this point, attorney Baloyan countered that it was possible that Petrosyan used his cell phone much closer to the crash scene and that, due to heavy phone traffic, the call wasn’t picked up by the other three antennas but was transferred to the one farther away.
“In such cases, they would immediately get in touch with the telephone service provider and ask for transcripts of the phone conversations. However, in this case, the preliminary court body did not initiate such action,” Petrosyan’s attorney said.
“Yes, I spoke by phone, but that happened before the accident,” Vardan Petrosyan told the court.
Petrosyan’s attorney then motioned the court to halt criminal proceedings against his client and to drop the case based on the above findings and other material previously presented.
Attorney Baloyan and State Prosecutor Sargsyan opposed the motion. Judge Vaghinak Mkrtchyan postponed any decision on this motion until the examination of more substantial evidence related to the matter.
After this, Prosecutor Sargsyan read out the summary portion of the indictment.
Vardan Petrosyan then rose and said: “For me, the indictment has two portions; a moral and legal one. We are taking steps in the legal sector and you immediately raise the moral aspect. When we attempt to move from the moral aspect, the law is immediately waved in front of me. I did not violate any traffic laws because I did not exceed the speed limit and did not use my cell phone just before the accident. I did not lose control of the car and did not enter the shoulder. The Niva (the other car in the accident), backed up into the road and sadly I could not swerve away. Thus, I declare myself innocent regarding the indictment.”
After this, the procedural aspects of the trial were defined.
Attorney Baloyan made a motion that the first matter should be an examination of the conclusions reached by the medical forensic regarding Tatevik Hakobyan, one of the injured passengers in the other car
The court sustained the motion
Attorney Baloyan motioned that additional forensic tests be conducted on Tatevik Hakobyan in order to ascertain what physical functions were damaged as a result of the accident. Baloyan said the woman might seek compensation in a civil trial.
Vardan Petrosyan addressed the court, noting that he had always expressed a willingness to assist Hakobyan regarding her medical treatment and was thus taken aback that the matter was the subject of a motion.
Petrosyan’s lawyer said that the insurance company was obliged to pay 3 million AMD to the aggrieved and that there was thus no need for further forensic testing.
The judge retired to chambers for deliberation. Upon returning, he partially sustained attorney Baloyan’s motion and ordered further forensic tests.