YEREVAN—The Armenian Human Rights Ombudsman’s office dismissed on Friday Russian media reports that the Moscow city government has released Hrachya Harutiunian, the Armenian immigrant who has been serving a prison sentence since causing the death of 18 people in a trucking accident last year.
Yeranuhi Tumaniants, head of the Torture Prevention Department of the Armenian Ombudsman’s office, told Panorama.net that she has confirmed no such decision from Russian authorities.
“Together with Hrachya Harutiunian’s lawyer Ruben Margarian, we are trying to clarify why the Russian media has disseminated this piece of misinformation,” she said.
The popular Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported earlier on Friday that the authorities of the Moscow City Court declined to extend Harutiunian’s prison term. Harutiunian’s prison term has been extended several times since his arrest in 2013.
Harutiunian’s arrest caused controversy when he was made to appear in court wearing a women’s gown hours after his accident and arrest. Russian news anchors chided and sneered at the man, who was shown on TV crying in court. The Armenian media condemned the display as a deliberate affront to personal dignity and a display of Russian xenophobia and racism.