Kim Balayan Trial Begins with a Protest Against the Judge

YEREVAN (Yerevan News Service)–The much anticipated trial of Armenian Revolutionary Federation member Kim Balayan began Tuesday with the defendant entering an official protest to the presiding judge for unwarranted delays in the proceedings.

In his protest–Balayan told justice Garik Markarian that his case was sent on December 11 to Armenia’s Supreme Court–which is mandated by law to hear the case within a minimum of five days and maximum of 35 days.

"What has given you the right to keep me in custody for five months?" demanded Balayan.

"I cannot be tried in an independent court since even the constitutional norms of the legal establishment are under the president’s control. I cannot trust a judge whose duty is to know the deadlines for determining a case… interior minister Vano Siradeghian had planned to assassinate me that’s why when I was arrested I was taken to the interior ministry prison and not the national security ministry facility," revealed Balayan.

Attorneys Rouben Sahakian and Jora Khatchatrian defended Balayan’s protest–stressing that the charges filed against his client did not correspond with the proper articles and provisions of Armenia’s criminal code.

Judge Markarian rejected the protest.

The trial began with prosecutor Razmig Hovanissian and public defense attorneys Souren Zolyan–Vitaly Daniloff–Aghassi Arshagian and Ferdinand Ghazarian.

Defense attorney Sahakian asked the court to invite opposition leaders mentioned in the case to provide testimony during the trial.

The defense team also appealed to include Balayan’s pending suit–brought forth following the 1995 parliamentary elections but never heard by the judiciary–to this current case. The request was denied by the judge.

Sahakian objected–asking whether there was an organized attempt by authorities to pursue his client.

Balayan faces charges of obstructing justice and initiating public disorder in order to undermine results of the presidential elections–as well as allegedly leading the crowd into crashing the gates of the parliament causing 2.5 million drams in damages to the National Assembly.

The court also alleges that deputy parliament speaker Ara Sahakian allegedly asked for Balayan’s help when he was beat up by a group of protesters–but that request was purportedly rejected by Balayan. The court and officials also allege that 28 bullets were found in Balayan’s house during a police search of the residence following the defendant’s arrest.

The prosecution will attempt to prove Balayan’s guilt through Sahakian’s preliminary deposition–as well as statemen’s affirming the alleged order to break through the National Assembly gates.

The prosecution will begin its case by calling Sahakian as the first witness.

The court session was scheduled for Thursday.

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