Armenian Health Minister Apologizes for Improper Handling of Fallen Soldiers’ Corpses

By Emilio Luciano Cricchio 

Acting Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan has apologized for the improper handling of the preservation of the bodies of servicemen who were killed in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. 

On May 31, photos emerged online of a crowded room filled with body bags on the floor that carried the remains of Armenian servicemen. It was later confirmed that the photo was taken at a morgue in the city of Abovyan. 

Avanesyan expressed regret for not personally visiting the morgues in question after bodies had been moved there. 

“I assure you that in the last year the Forensic Medical Center has done its best to ensure proper forensic medical examinations and identification processes,” Avanesyan wrote on Facebook.

Earlier, the Health Ministry announced that it would launch an official investigation into the improper storage conditions of the bodies of fallen servicemen. 

On June 1, the Health Ministry published new data from the Forensic Medical Center regarding the identification of corpses. The ministry assured that there are no bodies which have not been identified. According to the ministry’s statement however, there are about 50 bodies which forensicists have been unable to separate DNA from. In addition to this, about 149 bodies did not match the DNA of their relatives. 

Mane Gevorgyan, the spokeswoman for Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, told Armenpress news agency that the Abovyan morgue case was inadmissible, and that the prime minister has ordered an official investigation to be launched to uncover those responsible. 

“All measures will be taken to hold the officials in question accountable,” said Gevorgyan.

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