1.5 years for Sefilyan and Aroyan and 2 years for Malkhasyan
Today, on August 6 th , Judge Mnatsakan Martirosyan of the Kentron and Nork Marash Court of First Instance handed down guilty verdicts against Zhirayr Sefilyan, Commander of the Shushi Special Battalion, Vardan Malkhasyan, a member of the “Fatherland and Honor” political party and Karabakh freedom fighter Vahan Aroyan.
The Court found Zhirayr Sefilyan not guilty of violating Article 301 of the Republic of Armenia Criminal Code (issuing anti-constitutional statements), but found him guilty of violating the first section of Article 235 of the Criminal Code (illegal possession of a weapon) and sentenced him to 1.5 years imprisonment. Vardan Malkhasyan was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for violating Article 301 and Vahan Aroyan was sentenced to 1.5 years for violating the first section of Article 235.
During the prior court sessions prosecutor Artur Mkrtchyan offered indictments and the accused presented their final statements.
Punishments for the accused
The main examination stage of the Sefilyan-Malkhasyan-Aroyan trial came to an end after the interrogation of only 4 of the 30 witnesses (the attorneys protested that the rest did not contribute to the case and were wasting time) and after yet another postponement of the attorney's several previous petitions.
During the following court session prosecutor Artur Mkrtchyan recommended 2.5 years of imprisonment (effective from December 10, 2006) for Vardan Malkhasyan, accused under the article 301. For Vahan Aroyan, accused under article 235, he recommended 3 years (from December 28, 2006). For Zhirayr Sefilyan, he recommended 2.5 years for violating article 301 and 1.5 years for violating article 235. However because of article 66 (summation of punishments) of the RA Criminal Code, he requested a total of 3 years of incarceration for Sefilyan (from December 9, 2006).
Zhirayr Sefilyan: “This is not a court, this is a theater”
“This is not a court, this is a theater. Even the biggest supporter of the government cannot show evidence of corpus delicti in our actions. This is all an order. The NSS is working to the gain of two people (Robert Kocharyan and Serge Sargsyan). All those who had something to do with this case will eventually answer for it. The famous pair is foolishly trying to punish me and to scare the people. My dear people, we must not fear this anti-Armenian regime, we must struggle against it. This amoral regime is not powerful, we are powerful.”
Prior to this Sefilyan's and Malkhasyan's attorneys spoke about the inadmissibility of illegally obtained evidence, about the violation of freedom of speech and about the unfairness of the prosecutor. In addition, according to the attorneys Sefilyan and Malkhasyan did not commit a crime, since they have done no damage whatsoever to the RA.
Vardan Malkhasyan: “The day of repayment will come”
“The court not making a just decision is an incomparably larger danger to the RA than our statements, which were not in the least such a danger. The wrong verdict will be exposed sooner or later in theEuropean Court.
Article 301 of the RA Criminal Code carries the purpose of trapping free speech in a straight jacket. In due time true justice and the day of repayment will come.”
Vahan Aroyan: “We got eight months in the NSS cells”
“Everyone is persuaded that my weaponry and ammunition have nothing to do with Zhirayr and Vardan. Am I going to use weapons taken from the Turks against my own people? I have always considered myself an Armenian soldier and for as long as I am one I will continue to struggle for our lands. I have so many medals and acknowledgements, why was this not at all taken into account? We were supposed to receive a reward from the government, but what we got was eight months in the NSS cells.”
“This is despicable”
Thus, the court found all 3 defendants guilty.
“This is the usual despicable result that we expected. They weren't able to find Zhirayr guilty on all counts and hand out maximum sentences to the guys. For this reason they resorted to theatrics. They wanted to show that they are fair and just, but in all actuality they reached a new low,” says Armen Aghayan, political secretary of the “Defense of theLiberatedTerritories” initiative.
“What's apparent is that Zhirayr's forecast that they want to keep him under lock and key until the end of the presidential elections is in fact true,” notes attorney Ara Zakaryan.
Essentially, the eight months that Sefilyan, Malkhasyan and Aroyan have already spent in jail comprises more than a third of the sentences they've received. The law stipulates that in such cases they can be granted early releases; something that an appropriate committee would decide. Despite such a possibility, their attorneys have decided to press on until their clients have been completely vindicated of all charges.
“First of all, those committees in and of themselves are illegal and to pin any hopes on them to issue early releases, in my opinion, borders on extreme naivety. Anyway, it's still too early to talk on that issue. We anticipate that the Court of Appeals will find Zhirayr not guilty” concludes Ara Zakaryan.
After the court session ended the supporters of Sefilyan and his comrades marched towards the government building and the French embassy, calling for a struggle against “Robik's and Serzhik's” rule and for the release of political prisoners Zhirayr Sefilyan, Vardan Malkhasyan, Alexander Arzumanyan, Arman Babajanyan and Vahan Aroyan.