07.18.06

Schiff Calls on Armenian President to Extradite a Glendale Murder Suspect

Washington, D.C. – Late last week, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), along with a group of 14 bipartisan colleagues, wrote to the President of Armenia requesting that Arthur Khanzadyan be returned to the United States to stand trial for the murder of Odet Tsaturyan.  In the letter, the Members expressed their belief that Mr. Khanzadyan would be much more effectively prosecuted in the United States where full access to evidence and witnesses could be ensured. 

“There has been an outcry from the family and friends of Ms. Tsaturyan and the broader Armenian-American community that the individual responsible for the death of Odet Tsaturyan be brought to justice,” the letter states.  “It is the belief of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Glendale Police Department that it is most appropriate that Arthur Khanzadyan return to the United States to answer for the crimes for which he has confessed.  It is our belief that Mr. Khanzadyan would be much more effectively prosecuted in the United States where full access to forensic and evidentiary witnesses could be guaranteed.  The crimes to which Mr. Khanzadyan has confessed took place in California, the families of both the victim and the suspect reside in Glendale, and all of the evidence collected in the case has been carefully documented by the appropriate local law enforcement agencies.”

The full text of the letter is below.  A pdf copy of the letter is available upon request.


July 14, 2006


His Excellency Robert Kocharian
President of the Republic of Armenia
Office of the President
Marshal Baghramian Avenue, 26
Yerevan 0077, Armenia

Dear President Kocharian:

The close working relationship between the governments of the United States and the Republic of Armenia is one of the cornerstones of the relations between our nations.  Both of our countries share a bond that transcends the geographic distance between our borders.  The rule of law, and the insistence that justice be swift, impartial and procedurally fair are values that both our nations are founded upon.  In this spirit, we would like to bring an important issue to your attention and ask for your assistance.

On September 6, 2005, Odet Tsaturyan, a young and vibrant member of the Armenian-American Community in Glendale, California was brutally strangled and placed in the trunk of her boyfriend’s car.  While Ms. Tsaturyan’s parents frantically searched for their daughter in the days following her disappearance, the car was abandoned in a neighborhood in Azusa, California, and her body was not discovered for three days.

Through forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony, the Glendale Police Department quickly identified the suspected killer as her boyfriend, Arthur Khanzadyan, who disappeared immediately after the homicide.  Regrettably, however, in the days following the homicide, it was determined that Arthur Khanzadyan had fled the United States and returned to his native Armenia to avoid prosecution. 

Without the cooperation of the Armenian authorities in quickly apprehending Arthur Khanzadyan in Vanadzor, Armenia on November 11, 2005, Mr. Khanzadyan may have escaped justice altogether.  Instead, he is currently being detained in Armenia and has confessed to the brutal murder of Ms. Tsaturyan.

It has come to our attention that the trial date for Mr. Khanzadyan has been accelerated and may commence in the very near future in Armenia.  While we applaud the work of the Armenian Prosecutor General’s office in their detention and efforts to build an effective case against Arthur Khanzadyan, we believe without full access to the evidence and all potential witnesses that an effective prosecution of Ms. Tsaturyan’s murderer could be in jeopardy.

There has been an outcry from the family and friends of Ms. Tsaturyan and the broader Armenian-American community that the individual responsible for the death of Odet Tsaturyan be brought to justice.  It is the belief of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Glendale Police Department that it is most appropriate that Arthur Khanzadyan return to the United States to answer for the crimes for which he has confessed.  It is our belief that Mr. Khanzadyan would be much more effectively prosecuted in the United States where full access to forensic and evidentiary witnesses could be guaranteed.  The crimes to which Mr. Khanzadyan has confessed took place in California, the families of both the victim and the suspect reside in Glendale, and all of the evidence collected in the case has been carefully documented by the appropriate local law enforcement agencies.

We are aware that there is an established precedent of close cooperation between Armenia and the United States in cases that involve violent crime.  There have been cases in the past where murder suspects have been returned to the United States from Armenia to face prosecution for their crimes.  We are writing today to ask you to utilize whatever means are necessary to return Mr. Khanzadyan to the Untied States so that he can face charges and stand trial for the murder of Odet Tsaturyan.  We would further ask that no action be taken in the prosecution of Mr. Khanzadyan in Armenia that would preclude his return to the United States to face murder charges here.

Again, we applaud the history of cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and the United States.  In the absence of a formal extradition treaty, our two countries have worked together in the past to effectively bring to justice individuals who would seek to avoid prosecution in the courts of the country where the crime has been committed by simply fleeing the country.

We want to again thank you for the friendship of Armenia and the Armenian people, and I look forward to hearing from you regarding this very urgent matter.

Sincerely,
                                               
                                                         

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