YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–So-called "Dro" case defendant Gegham Manoukian was released Tuesday becoming the first prisoner to be released under the new amnesty law recently passed in Armenia’s National Assembly.
Manoukian was arrested following the ill-fated Dec. 28–1994 decree by Levon Ter-Petrosyan banning the activities of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Armenia.
Manoukian was subsequently charged under article 72 of Armenia’s Criminal Code which stipulates that individuals who take part in "banditism" against the state shall be imprisoned anywhere from five to 15 years.
Following the lengthy trial–which took almost two years–Manoukian was sentenced to three years imprisonment under Article 84 of the criminal code–which calls for a two to five-year jail term for the offense of not disclosing information regarding acts against the state.
Manoukian and all other "Dro" defendants appealed the verdicts reached last December–however–the appeals have not yet been heard in Armenia’s courts.
When reached by telephone from Asbarez–Manoukian stated that the outcome of the entire trial failed to implicate the ARF in any wrongdoing–adding that the authorities were unable to reach their intended goal of discrediting the ARF.
He added that his release fell under the general provisions of the amnesty law and was not an appeasement toward his person.
An excited Manoukian also said that while he was relieved to be released–he did not see much of a difference between freedom and incarceration since in both cases he was surrounded by friends and colleagues.