DEFENDANTS REJECT TAKING PART IN ALLEGED COUP ATTEMPT

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)Witnesses continued their testimony in the "Trial of 31" case which resumed last week.

The testimony and questioning of 71 witnesses lasted two days. Some of the most important testimony was given by Manouk Grigorian–a former commander in the "Arapo" detachment.

Grigorian began by confirming his previous testimony that he rejected Manuel Yeghiazarian’s proposal to allegedly recruit participants to take part in a so-called coup d’état. He then changed his testimony and said that Yeghiazarian never offered him a role in the alleged coup.

Grigorian said that he spoke with Yeghiazarian about the clashes on Liberty Square which took place on June 29–1995. Witnesses corroborated his story by saying that Grigorian did–indeed–talk about the said events and nothing more during preliminary investigations.

Grigorian attempted to explain contradictions in his testimony by saying that "investigators may have written lies or may have misunderstood me."

Grigorian also said that at a rally on June 29–1995–Yeghiazarian never asked for assistance from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in the carrying out of a so-called coup.

Grigorian also added that members of the Arapo detachment and he personally never supported the ARF.

Rouben Hajyan–a witness in the case–at first confirmed Grigorian’s preliminary testimony that at a June 29–1995 meeting devoted to martyred soldiers of the Arapo detachment–Yeghiazarian allegedly warned that members of the detachment should be prepared for an "armed coup" and "battle."

Hajyan alleged that the word "coup" was used by him because the investigators defined the word coup as so-called "battles" Yeghiazarian was purported to have mentioned.

Armen Avakyan–another witness in the case–also renounced his prior testimony–saying that investigators wrote his testimony and made him sign the paper threatening the arrest of his brother if he failed to comply with their orders.

Karo Karapetian–brother of defendant Karen Kazarian–also renounced his previous testimony and refused to testify in the court–saying that a person was not obligated to testify against himself–his spouse and close relatives. The judicial board sustained his request.

In the past week–more than a dozen witnesses denied that a so-called coup plan was ever discussed–all of them saying that their preliminary depositions were signed under pressure from investigators.

On March 13–the judicial board postponed attorney Souren Cherkezyan’s appeal to release his client–Vagif Avetissian. Defendants said that Avetissian’s health was deteriorating.

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