“Dro” Trial Appeals Process Postponed

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–An appeals hearing for the defendants of the so-called Dro trial scheduled for Thursday was postponed after defense attorneys Albert Karamian and Souren Cherkizian failed to appear at the Supreme Appellate Court of Armenia.

Karamian is Armen Grigorian’s attorney. Grigorian was sentenced to death and was involved in a number of crimes with Armen Mnjoyan and Arsen Artsruni–who have also been given the death penalty.

Cherkizian is Gevorg Alaverdian’s attorney–who was sentenced to three years in prison. Alaverdian–who has all ready spent two and a half years in prison–will most likely be free by the time the appeals process is finalized.

Armenia’s prosecutor general Henrik Khatchatrian last month withdrew a appeal filed by his predecessor Ardavazt Gevorkian protesting the shortness of the sentence given to so-called "Dro" defendant Hrant Markarian.

The famed "Dro" trial–which began in August 1995 and lasted until December 1996–was unable to prove charges of terrorism–drug trafficking against Markarian–and in the end–sentenced Markarian to a five-year prison term for possession of illegal weapons and fake travelling documen’s..

Former prosecutor general Gevorkian–ignoring the court’s final decision–petitioned the court to review its verdict and grant Markarian a stiffer sentence–only to validate the trumped up charges filed by his ministry following a highly controversial preliminary investigation.

Numerous observers–including international organizations and government representatives–have noted that defendants charged in the so-called "Dro" case were unduly harassed during the preliminary investigation–and often brutally beaten during interrogation.

This appeals court was scheduled to review all "Dro" trial-related appeals–and Khatchatrian’s withdrawal is also scheduled to be reviewed at that time.

"The so-called ?Dro,’ ?31′ and ?Sept. 25′ are unnecessarily delayed–and often some of the charges seem to be fabricated," also stated Khatchatrian during a meeting with defense attorneys of theses cases.

Khatchatrian has promised to review the cases and correct any illegalities which have occurred. Sources in Armenia’speculated that the appelate court would reduce Markarian’s sentence and would release the ARF leader and "Dro" trial.

Meanwhile the trials for the defendants charged in connection with disturbances on Sept. 25 continue to be prolonged and postponed.

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