Armenia without Political Prisoners civil initiative has issued a statement in connection with the court ruling in the case of four jailed opposition activists Tigran Araqelyan, Artak Karapetyan, Sargis Gevorgyan and Davit Kiramijyan.
"2012, the Court of Appeal of Armenia, under presidency of Judge Armen Daniyelyan, rejected the appeal complaints of four opposition activists Tigran Araqelyan, Artak Karapetyan, Sargis Gevorgyan, Davit Kiramijyan. Thus, the Court upheld the July 20 decision of the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Norq-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan under presidency of Judge Gagik Poghosyan, according to which the defendants were sentenced to imprisonment for respectively 6, 3, 2 and 2 years on charges related to the Article 316 (violent resistance or threat of violence against the representatives of the authorities) and Article 258 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code.
The case under consideration relates to the 9 August 2011 events, when the youth was assaulted by the police, beaten and taken to a police station right amidst long-awaited official talks between the authorities of Armenia and the oppositional ANC on the democratic transition of the country. The actions of the police are widely believed to be politically motivated and they effectively led to the halting of the dialogue between the government and the opposition.
Since 9 August 2011 the case was conducted with a number of substantial and procedural violations of law, selective justice was applied. In particular;
• The prosecution and later conviction of the young activists was mainly based on the testimonies of the police officers, who took part in the assault on the activists, but were formally involved as victims and witnesses
• A large number of individuals, who have witnessed the incident and could make objective and true testimony, were not interrogated during the investigation despite the demands by the defense
• The activists were denied of their procedural rights both when they were taken to the police station and when being imprisoned as suspects,
• The protocols and other procedural documents of the arrest of the young activists as suspects were made in absence of their lawyers,-
• The defendants' lawyer Vahe Hovsepyan submitted a report to the General Prosecutor informing about the actions of the police preventing him from performing his professional duties, including an incident of violence against him, but the initiation of an investigation into this report has been denied,
• During the investigation several people were questioned as witnesses based on a motion of the defense, but they were not included in the call list during the court trial.
• Several witnesses of the incident reported pressures by the police during the investigation, including being illegally taken to the Central Police Station.
• Defendants Sargis Gevorgyan and Tigran Arakelyan in both courts, and defendant Davit Kiramijyan in the RA Court of Appeal were denied of the possibility to make their last pleas which is a violation of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
• The court sessions in the Court of Appeal took place without defendants Davit Kiramijyan, Sargis Gevorgyan and Tigran Arakelyan and their lawyers. As a result, the defense was denied the right to make a defense speech,
• The Court of Appeal rejected all the motions made by the activists, as well as the lawyers' motions of recusal groundlessly and without justification.
• While there were credible reports of police brutality and abuse during the incident, no policeman was charged, and all the police officers were all involved in the case as "victims".
• The severe penalties imposed on the young activists sharply contradict to the common practice, according to which the Armenian judiciary routinely applies less severe penalties in case of much graver crimes.
These blatant violations of the law and use of selective justice reflect political motives behind the persecution of four ANC activists.
On 3 October 2012, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted the Resolution 1900, according to which "A person deprived of his or her personal liberty is to be regarded as a 'political prisoner':
a. if the detention has been imposed in violation of one of the fundamental guarantees set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its Protocols, in particular freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and association;
b. if the detention has been imposed for purely political reasons without connection to any offence;
c. if, for political motives, the length of the detention or its conditions are clearly out of proportion to the offence the person has been found guilty of or is suspected of;
d. if, for political motives, he or she is detained in a discriminatory manner as compared to other persons; or,
e. if the detention is the result of proceedings which were clearly unfair and this appears to be connected with political motives of the authorities." (SG/Inf(2001)34, paragraph 10).
As can be seen, on all five abovementioned clauses of the definition, Tigran Arakelyan should be considered a political prisoner. If the verdict enters into force Sargis Gevorgyan, Artak Karapetyan and Davit Kiramijyan will also join him as political prisoners.
Once again since May 2011, when all political prisoners were released by the Armenian authorities, Armenia is back to the reality, in which we have people imprisoned for solely trying to exert their constitutional rights and fundamental democratic freedoms.
It is time for the international community to react and urge the Armenian government to adhere to democratic principles, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and employ all possible means to stop the criminal prosecution against the young activists who are fighting for freedom and democracy, and to demand Tigran Araqelyan's immediate release.
adhered to the letter
"Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office"
Artur Sakunts (President of HCA-Vanadzor)
"Asparez Journalists' Club"
Levon Barseghyan (President of Journalists' Club "Asparez")
"Transparency International Anti-corruption Centre"
Sona Ayvazyan (Founding Member and Board Member)
"Center for Right and Freedom"
Vardan Harutyunyan (Chairman of Center for Right and Freedom)
"Youth for Democracy"
Isabella Sargsyan President of "Youth for Democracy"
"Armenian Committee of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly"
Natalia Martirosyan Co-Chair of "Armenian Committee of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly"
"Center for Freedom and Rights"
Vardan Harutyunyan, the head of the Center for Freedom and Rights
"Shahkhatun" Women's Democracy Promotion" NGO