Babayan Trial Continues

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The March 22 trial is being held in an atmosphere of illegality and fear. The Lawyers of the trial – Zhudex Shakarian–the defense attorney of the former commander-in-chief of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Defense Army–Lieutenant-General Samvel Babayan–and Eduard Chinarian–defending the interests of Erik Faramazian–as well as a well-known Bulgarian journalist Tsvetana Paskaleva – claim that the goal of the trial is to convict Samvel Babayan as the mastermind of the plot.

"It’s an order," they say–adding that even in the conference room of the judges–against all the norms–there is a telephone set over which the presiding judge Suren Alexanian consults before making decisions on petitions–or statemen’s by the trial participants.

At a press conference on September 30–the lawyers presented some details of the case.

According to Zhudex Shakarian–the trial is a staging. He pointed out that the connection between the immediate perpetrators of the terrorist act – Sasun Aghajanian and Levon Mirzoyan with Samvel Babayan – asserted by the investigators–is getting destroyed during the trial. Sasun Aghajanian is known to be kept in the Nubarashen remand prison’s mental hospital and in this view he is unable to either confirm or deny the testimony given during the investigation. In particular–the matter concerns the testimony in which he said that he was himself plotting the attempted murder for personal reasons. In the evidence of the second perpetrator Levon Mirzoyan–the connection is not fixed–as he refuses to acknowledge not only the participation of Babayan in the terrorist act–but even his own involvement. The third defendant–Erik Farmazian–acknowledges Babayan’s participation.

Shakarian said that the trial began despite the deman’s of the lawyers to postpone it until the recovery of Sasun Aghajanian–who–according to the lawyer–is being successfully isolated from the outer world.

According to the lawyer–the mentioned connection is confirmed only by David Ghulian–who–according to the materials of the case–heard Babayan saying that the matter was being delayed. His testimony runs counter to the testimony given by Babayan–who asserts that he had no conversation with Ghulian. As for the rest of the defendants–their testimony about Babayan’s participation is not direct evidence–as it refers to the information obtained from other defendants–in particular–from Sasun Aghajanian.

The lawyers believe that the confessions of the defendants have been obtained by using violence–through applying physical force–blackmail and psychotropic matters. Thus–Samvel Babayan testified against himself only once on April 3–when his lawyer from Yerevan Nikolay Baghdasarian was prevented from seeing him. Later–he retracted his evidence. Zhudex Shakarian said he did not remember what was happening to him during that period and that it was not until April 5 that he came to himself.

Defendant Vardan Tashchian–a citizen of Lenanon–also told the court about "chemical matters" having been applied to him. Tsvetana Paskaleva–who was present at the trial–said it was obvious that Vardan Tashchian could not pull himself together as he was answering questions. Tsvetana Paskaleva also spoke about the state of defendant Varuzhan Melkumian–who she knew previously–during the war. "Vako (this is what Paskaleva calls Varuzhan Melkumian) is not a talkative man. He is very secluded. Sometimes he won’t say more than a couple of words for a whole hour. But when he did drugs during the war–he changed and looked like an enraged bull. The day he gave his testimony–he looked exactly the same way – he talked very quickly and impudently. The following day he changed again: he sat silently–his eyes fixed to the floor," said Paskaleva.

According to the information of the lawyers–blackmail is being used against the defendants. People enter their prison cells and promise them mitigated sentences if they cooperate with them and supported the theory of the prosecution. Otherwise–they make threats. From this point of view–said the lawyers–it is clear why the trial of Samvel Babayan’s full brother Karen Babayan has not started yet. Karen Babayan is charged with an economic offense. According to the lawyers–he is being kept hostage.

In the defense attorneys’ opinion–the investigation was framed up in haste and contradictions surface even in the scenario written in advance. For example–the bill of indictment says that the goal of the crimes is to weaken the state and seize power. However–there is evidence in the case materials testifying to the fact that Samvel Babayan was getting ready not for violent action–but for political struggle by way of bringing his loyalists to parliament.

The lawyers said that there are supporters of Babayan in the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh now–but everybody keeps silence because the atmosphere of fear reigns the country.

The lawyers added that the mass media of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic present the trial only from the official position–without indicating the testimony contradicting the official version. The newspapers published in Armenia which cover the trial impartially are not disseminated in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic through newsstands.

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