Monday, 16 December

Contentious Court: Protests at Yerevan Trial of Jirayr Sefilyan and Six Others

The ongoing trial, in Yerevan, of Jirayr Sefilyan and six others charged in 2016 with illegal arms purchase and possession and with conspiracy to seize government buildings in Yerevan remains a scene of contention both inside the court and outside.

Five of the seven defendants were again barred from today’s court session because they refuse to stand when Shengavit Administrative Court Judge Tatevik Grigoryan enters the courtroom.

Outside the court, well-known activist Vardges Gasparyan laid down on the street in protest. He and other demonstrators are demanding that public defender Marineh Tovmasyan, assigned to defend Jirayr Sefilyan, recuse herself since Sefilyan has said that he doesn’t want her services or those of any other public defender.

Court bailiffs again demanded that reporters covering the trial, and those who came as spectators, provide their names and other personal data.

When this reporter attempted to video, the bailiffs quickly removed the list from sight.

Nevertheless, this photo shows a bailiff jotting down data from a person’s passport. The bailiffs say they have the right to identify those entering the court and that it’s done for security and safety reasons. The law, however, doesn’t give them the authority to do so.

Attorney Arayik Papikyan (above photo), who defends Nerses Poghosyan, one of the five defendants barred from the courtroom, says personal data is being collected to see who the defendants have links to on the outside.

“From the start, individuals have been barred from entering the courtroom based on the judge’s say-so,” claims Papikyan.

For example, Vahe Poghosyan, the brother of defendant Nerses Poghosyan, has been barred from any of the court sessions.

Judge Grigoryan has, for the past two weeks, prohibited reporters from videotaping the court proceedings. Journalists can only take photographs and audio recordings.

Today’s court session was postponed due to the absence of one of the defense attorneys.

Along with Sefilyan and Poghosyan, the co-defendants in the trial, which began in June, are Gevorg Safaryan, Hovhannes Petrosyan, Sasounik Kirakosyan, Hrayr Topchyan and Galoust Grigoryan. 


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