Defense Attorneys Call for Not Guilty Verdicts

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Lawyers of defendants in the "Trial of 31," Roza Poghosova and Anahit Yesayan–made their closing remarks last week.

The lawyers again drew the attention of the court to the fact that the investigation had been biased–with serious violations of laws and codes of conduct–which resulted in such a protracted trial.

Poghosova said the defendants’ rights had been violated; moral and physical pressure had been exerted not only on the defendants but on their relatives as well. In particular–defendant Gnel Hovhanissian’s wife–Aghavni Karapetian–was brutally beaten–as a result of which she was deprived of the opportunity to experience the joy of becoming a mother"–while her sick brother died prematurely.

Poghosova called accusations of a coup against the Armenian Revolutionary Federation nonsense–since–as the defense attorney vehemently said–there had been no resolutions or protocols to this regard reached or issued by the Bureau of the party.

According to her–the serious–yet unfounded charges brought against the defendants "burst like a soap-bubble." because of their unsubstantiated nature.

Instead of pushing for the defendants to be found not guilty on those counts–the state prosecutor on the contrary re-qualified those charges into more absurd and unfounded charges. According to the lawyer–it was not even mentioned where and when the defendants had been making calls to overthrow the authorities.

Attorney Yesayan described the step of the state prosecutor as willfulness. The attorneys requested that the defendants be found not guilty on such charges.

Poghosova thinks that her client should be also found not guilty on count 17-209 (attempt on a policeman’s life)–as–according to her–it became clear from the case material that the defendant had not participated in the clashes with the policemen in Shinararneri Street on August 1–1995.

On the contrary–Hovhanissian was doing his best to prevent the bloodshed. There is no corpus delicti in his actions.

According to the attorney–Hovhanissian is only guilty on count 232–part 1 (illegal purchase and possession of weapons and ammunition): after getting his weapon in the battlefield–he wouldn’t register it with the Defense Ministry.

Yesayan pointed out that her client Tigran Mheri Avetisian was only guilty on count 17-232: he was involved in arms shipmen’s. Lawyers believe the defendants will plead guilty and the Judicial Board should find the term of their imprisonment to be sufficient and release them from the court-room.

Poghosova voiced hope that the Board would not commit any miscarriage of justice and defendant Hovhanissian would not be deprived of the opportunity to receive his award.

Hovhanissian was fighting against the enemy with the battalion of the condemned–while Defense Minister Vazgen Sargssian had recently announced that all those who risked their lives without any exception must be awarded.

During an earlier session of the trial–defendant Ofelia Assikian and Sousanna Makarian left the court room during the proceedings–because of a cartoon in the Aravot Daily.

The sketch reportedly depicted Assikian in a nude and compromising situation–and the defendant took great offense–asking the newspaper to apologize for its insensitivity.

After the journalist refused to do so–the defendants walked out in protest. Justice David Avetissian did not feel compelled to create order in his court room.

The next session of the trial was set for Tuesday–with the understanding that the two defendants return to the court.

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