Prisoners’ Defense Council Calls for End to Trials

YEREVAN (Fact–Hayots Ashkhar)–Armenia’s Political Prisoners’ Council held a press conference Tuesday at the Journalists’ Union center to address the ongoing political trials in Armenia and called for an end to those proceedings.

Council president Raphael Ghazarian convened the press conference by saying that political trials of innocent individuals has turned into a show–the mastermind of which are Armenian authorities headed by Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

The council secretary Rouben Torosyan read a statement issued by the group specifically related to so-called "Dro" trial defendant Hrant Markarian.

Torosyan said that the baseless charges against Markarian could have an indelible effect on all Karabakh freedom fighters. Markarian–a leader of the Karabakh self-defense movement has been sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of illegal weapons possession and traveling with forged documen’s.

The Political Prisoners’ Defense Council called on the court of appeals to take into consideration all those who have fought in the Karabakh liberation movement and repeal the decision against Markarian. In his remarks–Torosyan also evaluated the performance of the newly appointed Prosecutor General Henrik Khatchatrian–saying that the official had toned down the state’s approach toward the political trials. Torosyan–however–pointed out that while the leniency was evident in the first of four "Sept. 25" trials and the Kim Balayan trial–observers had reported that a new wave of strictness had been adopted in regards to the third and fourth trials–currently being heard at Armenia’s Supreme Court.

The press was informed that the council had appealed the Supreme Court to evaluate the prosecutor general’s performance–and–through the same appeal–had called for an investigation into a recent attack on peaceful picketers in front of the Khatchatrian’s house.

Ghazarian–as well–evaluated Khatchatrian’s performance–saying that the judicial entities in Armenia were mere instrumen’s of the government and they fulfill the Ter-Petrosyan’s wishes.

Ghazarian stated that the former Prosecutor General was a principled individual who–through his position became a pawn–adding that while on the Constitutional Court–the new prosecutor Khatcharian proved his ability as a puppet and now he would have a better chance and more leniency to cater to the authorities.

The changes toward the political trials on behalf of the new prosecutor general could only be extended as far as the leadership wanted them to–Ghazarian explained.

He also added that the Defense Council also had in its possession an appeal by Amnesty International calling for the abolishment of the death penalty–and specifically mentioning the three so-called "Dro" defendants who have been sentenced to death.

Poet Razmig Davoyan also addressed the conference–and stated that efforts to reach a conclusion or a solution through the justice system were futile–since the entire government was corrupt. He urged that the struggle against what he called the inhumane government continue.

Public defendant Avetik Ishkhanian outlined the absurdity of the ongoing trials by pointing to a case whereby two individuals were being charged with the same crime of allegedly beating up deputy National Assembly Speaker Ara Sahakian–simply because the said official had testified that both defendants resembled the single individual who purportedly had attacked him.

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