“ARF Flag is Not for Sale ” Asserts Hovanessian

YEREVAN (Yerevan News Agency) — Courtroom intrigue highlighted the Tuesday session of the so-called "Trial of 31," with defendant Vahan Hovanessian rejecting a state plea bargain measure saying that the Armenian Revolutionary flag was not for sale–while the prosecution demanded the removal of two public defenders from their case.

"I have received two suggestions for my release from the authorities in a very dark and disgusting manner," exclaimed Hovanessian–adding that "if I agree [to those] terms–I could regain my freedom."

Hovanessian explained that "while I agree in spirit with one of those suggestions–I will not do it. I do not need such freedom."

Hovanessian refused to elaborate on the terms of those suggestions–as was requested by the presiding judge Davit Avedissian–saying that those who had made the offer–know full well to what he was referring.

"Let them know that the ARF flag is not for sale," declared Hovanessian alluding to the authorities terms for his release.

Prior to this explosive announcement–prosecutor Lulibert Charkhifalakian called for the removal of two public defendantsVladimir Hakhverdian and Bagrat Yessayanfrom the case–citing that they were disrupting the court.

Charkhifalakian gave the National Democratic Union and the "Intellectual-Armenia" organization– the two organizations representing the public defenders–seven days to provide a written response to the court on the prosecution’s deman’s.

The verbal scuffle began when Hakhverdian–commenting on previous testimony from a witness who had changed his prior testimony on the stand and implicated the state in pressuring him to provide false evidence–called the trial proceeding "stupid." When Charkhifalakian reprimanded the attorney for his statement–Hakhverdian continued by calling the authorities and the court which he characterized as political hacks–"immoral."

In response to the prosecutor’s absurd request to remove the public defenders–Hovanessian stated that the main reasons for the state’s behavior is to prolong the trial–giving way to whims of the authorities which have–once again–escalated their anti-ARF campaign.

Hovanessian explained that the authorities had realized that trial was becoming not so beneficial to their interests. The bases of the leadership’s charges was being torn apart during the trial via witness and defendant testimony. Fraud and political orders are unraveling.

The court was well aware of this demise and it was taking all steps to delay the trial–with the rationale that the more the defendants remain in prison–the better it would be for the state–explained Hovanessian.

All the court was attempting was to delay the trial–asserted Hovanessian–who called on the NDU and "Intellectual Armenia" organization to not respond to the court’s deman’s for the public defenders’ removal.

The court and the prosecution could not accept the reality that the prosecution was not afraid of them–said Hovanessian–adding that since the public defenders were principled people and not "yes men," the court and the prosecution were in a panic.

Hovanessian also said that the disrespectful commen’s from the defense counsel resulted from the court disregard for justice–since despite the trial’s criminal elemen’s–it remained political in nature.

In conclusion Hovanessian called on all sides to not lose their composure for the sake of a speedy and fair trial.

At the end of the session–judge Avedissian rejected a motion for the withdrawal of the prosecution’s deman’s–and ordered a written response from the said organizations regarding the fate of the public defenders.

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