“Sept. 25″ Defendants to Be Released

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Following the verdict of the Armenian Supreme Court–charges of mass disturbances–Article 74–brought against defendants in the "Sept. 25 Trial" case–Vahe Beknazarian–Argishti Kivirian and Mkrtych Meghavorian–were replaced by charges of organization or active participation in group actions disturbing public order–Article 206–Thursday.

They were sentenced to one and a half years in prison. Following the general amnesty in 1997–Beknazarian–Kivirian and Meghavorian were freed from the court-room upon being sentenced.

Seyran Masoyan and Habed Petrossian were found guilty and sentenced to 2 and 2 and a half years in prison–respectively. In accordance with Article 42 the Judicial Board postponed the execution of the sentence for two years. Masoyan and Petrossian were also freed from the court-room.

The Judicial Board reasoned the sentence by saying that the defendants’ testimonies during the preliminary investigation had revealed them to be responsible for charges brought against them.

Under the verdict–their guilt was proven by testimonies of victims and witnesses during the preliminary and court examinations. The Judicial Board believes that defendants’ court testimonies cannot be trusted and are aimed at avoiding responsibility.

Claims of torture by the defendants were not examined–as according to the court no proof was presented.

Attorney Rouben Sahakian described the verdict as illegal. He noted that in his closing argumen’s he had foreseen that the verdict will attempt to prove the participation of opposition leaders in so-called mass disturbances.

"The Judicial Board assumed as a basis the testimonies given during the preliminary investigation–and I am sure that the Vyshinsky Law is operating in Armenia. I would have been satisfied with the verdict only in the case it had been composed strictly in accordance to the law," Sahakian said.

In his opinion–the verdict should be appealed.

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