Seven defendants were accused of robbing several apartments and houses, stealing large amounts of money and other belongings, as well as possessing drugs and illegally obtaining two cars. According to investigators, Artush Hakobyan and Gurgen Hayrapetyan recruited gang members, David Galstyan, Samvel Davtyan, Armen Dallakyan, Arthur Manukyan, and Karam Amoyan in May 2011. During the month of August, the gang members robbed and attacked Atom Ghazazyani, Edward Bezoyan, Aghvan Grigoryan, Napoleon Azizyan and their families.
The defense attorney’s for the suspects claim that their clients were tortured in order to obtain evidence; therefore the evidence used to charge the suspects should be ruled inadmissible. Additionally, there have been several violations reported, including police brutality, torture, ignoring defendant’s health conditions, and indefinite postponing of trials.
One of the accused, Armen Dallakyan, died at the prison’s hospital on September 7, 2013 at the age of 41. Due to his death, his case was never resolved. However, before his death, A. Dallakyan wrote a letter to his lawyer about the torture he had experienced.
The letter stated, “I made a confession upon being pressured and beaten by masked police employees of the 6th division. I did not commit assault, I did not have drugs in my possession. Police removed from my pocket a bag of drugs that wasn’t mine. I didn’t want to sign the testimony-- it wasn’t mine. I denied that I committed assault, but they said it’s all the same, I’m going to stand trial for drug possession. The masked men threw me to the ground and began to beat me. They beat me for around 4 hours, taking turns. I thought they would kill me, and that is why I wrote what the investigator told me.”
The letter was read during court on June 11, 2014.
Another defendant, Kyaram Amoyan, is being tried separately due to his serious mental condition. K. Amoyan’s condition deteriorated while in police custody due to the abuse he suffered by police officers. He also experienced three strokes while in pre-trial detention. During one of his court sessions, the ambulance was called twice, demonstrating his need to be hospitalized and under the supervision of doctors. However, that court session was not postponed and the prosecution continued presenting their case. There have been several times that K. Amoyan was unable to attend court because he felt ill, causing his trial to be postponed.
The suspected mastermind behind the burglary, Artush Hakobyan has been sitting in prison for three years, since his case is continuously postponed by Judge Makyan. A. Hakobyan’s lawyer, Hovik Arsenyan, made a motion during one of the court sessions to change his client’s measure of restraint due to the prolonged trial and the lack of evidence, however, it was denied by the Judge. A. Hakobyan proclaims he is not guilty, explaining that none of the defendants knew each other prior to being arrested and the stolen materials were never recovered. Additionally, A. Hakobyan stated in his testimony that the former Police Chief, Alik Sargsyan, has a personal agenda against him. He explained that during a gathering at his uncle’s house (his uncle’s wife is Alik Sargsyan’s aunt) several years ago, an altercation occurred where A. Hakobyan hit Alik Sargsyan, who at the time was a musician, with a hose. A fight broke out between them and Artush and his friends beat A. Sargsyan and his uncle. Therefore, Artush believes that he is being harassed and falsely accused of crimes he did not commit due to the tension between their families.
Another defendant, David Galstyan, submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, stating that he had been abused while in police custody. His attorney, Stepan Voskanyan, explained that they had attempted all possible court measures in Armenia and were unsuccessful. Therefore, S. Voskanyan believed it was necessary to reach out to another court body in order to prevent his client from experiencing anymore violence. During one of the court sessions, D. Galstyan cut his wrist with a sharp object as an act of protest. D. Galstyan harmed himself after the prosecutor read a testimony that he allegedly gave during the preliminary investigation. However, D. Galstyan has stated repeatedly that he never gave such testimony and that the police tortured him. S. Voskanyan said that his client had self-harmed himself once before, after the death of Armen Dallakyan.
Judge Makyan reached a verdict and found that all five defendants are guilty of committing robbery. The Judge handed out different sentences to each of the defendants, depending on their involvement. The defendants’ attorney’s petitioned to the Court of Appeals, however, the Appellate court ruled in favor of the initial verdict.
Kyaram Amoyan’s case is still waiting to hear from a neurologist, who will testify on whether or not K. Amoyan is able to participate in the proceedings due to his health conditions.
Written by Sona Movsisyan.
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