YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian pardoned at the weekend 16 more individuals arrested and convicted in connection with last year’s post-election violence in Yerevan.
The presidential press service said all of these individuals had appealed to Sarkisian for an amnesty. It said the presidential decree signed on Saturday also took into account their lack of prior criminal records as well as health conditions and family circumstances.
Sarkisian’s office did not list theft or looting among the accusations that were leveled against the 16 persons. It mentioned instead illegal arms possession, resistance to the police and participation in “mass disturbances.”
The amnesties came just three days before a session of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) that will decide whether to suspend the voting rights of its Armenian members. PACE officials have accused the Sarkisian administration of failing to fully comply with the Strasbourg-based assembly’s resolutions that demanded the release of opposition supporters arrested on “artificial or politically motivated charges.”
Despite the PACE threats of sanctions, Sarkisian has refused to call a general amnesty for all oppositionists remaining in prison. The Armenian president so far has been willing to pardon only those detainees that have confessed to controversial accusations leveled against them.