Hrand Markarian Released from Prison

YEREVAN (Yerevan News Agency)–"I have emerged from darkness and into the light," told Armenian Revolutionary Federation leader Hrand Markarian to Asbarez following his release from prison Monday–after Armenia’s Supreme Court lowered his five-year prison term to three following an appeal by Armenia’s prosecutor general.

Markarian was released after three years and two months of imprisonment. Sources in Armenia indicated that another ARF leader Vahan Hovanessian–convicted in the "Trial of 31" was expected to be freed Tuesday.

"We have lost five years–while I have lost three. I have deep anguish. I am going to appease that anguish first," said Markarian as he left prison. He commented that the ARF’s role in Armenia must be to enforce morals and unity. Markarian expressed satisfaction with Ter-Petrosyan’s peaceful resignation–and noted that he was not concerned with the personality of the next president but his platform.

The special session of Armenia’s Supreme Court convened at 11 a.m. local time–where judges heard argumen’s stemming from an appeal filed by Armenia’s prosecutor general Henrik Khatchatrian–who stressed that due to several factors related to Markarian’s personal life and his contribution to the Karabakh liberation struggle–the court should reconsider his sentence and set him free.

The Supreme Court cavalry of judges started that Markarian would be released by lowering his sentence from five to three years–and since Armenia’s criminal code enacts a prison sentence retroactively–Markarian had already served more than three years.

By noon–the Supreme Court entrance was flooded with Markarian’s family–friends–ARF leaders and reporters who awaited the final decision of the judges.

Following the announcement of the decision–at 1 p.m. Markarian emerged from Armenia’s National Security prison facility and was greeted by a crowd of countless supporters–family–friends and colleagues.

In a conversation with Asbarez–Markarian ensured that he was in good health and spirits–and expressed hope that the political changes in Armenia would be positive for the nation. He also added that he was content that the changes occurred through the constitution and unnecessary blood was not shed.

He also pledged his support for the transition government of Armenia.

Markarian’s attorney Rouben Sahakian said he was not satisfied with the resolution of the Supreme Court as it was not based on corpus delecti. Sahakian said that a court of appeals did not take into account the fact that arms possession permission was issued to Markarian by the commander of the Karabakh army Samvel Babayan. According to the attorney–under a Dec. 1–1989 Supreme Court resolution on the reunification of Armenia and Karabakh–that permission would be considered effective throughout the entire territory of Armenia.

"On Dec. 4–1994 [the day Markarian was arrested]–Armenia’s National Security Council embarked on an operation which ended today in failure," remarked Sahakian

Sahakian pointed out that the only person who could announce the real not guilty verdict was Levon Ter-Petrosyan–adding that since "he is no longer in the picture," neither the prosecutors nor the judges know the methods by which they can address the issue.

"Everybody was waiting for instructions–an order from a single man. Everybody was afraid to pronounce four words: "Levon–you are wrong," Sahakian said.

With regards to charges of forged passports–Sahakian noted that the court should have taken into account the exclusive circumstances under which a citizen of Iran–Hrant Markarian–was operating in Karabakh.

Markarian added that the National Security Ministry of Armenia has yet to complete its tasks–because–he said–"I have been here for three years and no spy has been caught."

In her remarks–defense attorney Yessayan stressed that "It became clear today that Markarian was a political prisoners–and his release depended on a change in the political situation in Armenia–meaning what happened went outside the legal boundaries and realms."

Of eleven convicted in the so-called "Dro" case Gegham Manoukian–Tatoul Gabrielian and Gevork Alaverdian have been set free.

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