OSCE Hails New Armenian Unrest Probe

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) welcomes President Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to form an independent body that will investigate post-election violence in Yerevan, the head of its Armenian office said on Friday.

Ambassador Sergei Kapinos said the OSCE is encouraged by the anticipated participation of representatives of the Armenian opposition and the human rights ombudsman in the Fact-Finding Group of Experts formed by Sarkisian. “We hope that the group will also give a new impetus to the work of the parliamentary commission examining the events of March 1,” he told journalists.

The group, in which the opposition and the government camp are to be equally represented, will have the right to ask international experts to assist in the inquiry.

Kapinos doubted that the OSCE will provide experts for the probe if it is asked to by the investigative body. “The organization simply has no experience of participating in and sending experts to such an inquiry,” he said.

Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian asked the OSCE and the United Nations last April to assist in the separate criminal investigation into what the Armenian authorities say was an opposition attempt to stage a coup d’etat following the February 19 presidential election. More than 70 opposition supporters remain under arrest as part of that investigation. Western governmen’s and human rights bodies say many of them were jailed for exercising their political rights and must be released.

According to Kapinos, the OSCE’s Warsaw-based Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has been monitoring ongoing trials of the arrested oppositionists and plans to release a detailed report early next year.


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