Appeal Hearing for “31” Case Begin

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The Executive Council of the Supreme Court of Armenia began considering the appeals of 19 defendants of the "Trial of 31," Thursday. The attorneys demanded repeal of the December 11–1997–verdict.

Attorney Anahit Yesayan–who on that day defended Tigran V. Avetisian who had been sentenced to death for killing two policemen–described the evidence found by the court as "very doubtful and disputable". She demanded that the criminal case regarding the murder be separated from the actual case and submitted to additional inquiry.

Attorney Marina Ghalabian said–"If in the former case the court acted on orders of Levon Ter-Petrosyan–then now it is acting at Robert Kocharian’s bidding."

She called on the court to remain independent and to not yield to the "new trends."

"Arapo" commander Manuel Yeghiazarian–who was pardoned by Kocharian–called for justice.

Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia member and "Trial of 31" defendant Vahan Hovanessian–asserted that the court must acquit the defendants at least on count 65–part 3–subcount 65 and count 67. "The current political situation in Armenia–justice and your professional duty require that," he said.

Holding that the instituted proceedings were ridiculous–Hovanessian pointed out that none of the charges had been proven. He warned the court against being guided by double standards.

According to Hovanessian–double standards are being widely used by the West which condemns everything in the former Soviet Union–such as Stalin–Lenin–concentration camps–false socialism–collective farms–but holds on to Stalin-set borders–because it meets their needs.

Hovanessian described the verdict in the "Trial of 31" as immoral and disgraceful to the country: "Those political figures who at once became Yerkrapah members must have forgotten how they rushed to foreign embassies complaining against the ARF and presenting the "Arapo" battalion as a gang of armed robbers."

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