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Opposition Politician to Be Tried for Same Crimes as Sasna Tsrer Armed Group Members, Lawyer Says

The preliminary investigation into the criminal case involving opposition political figure Andreas Ghukasyan, arrested last July after a rally in support of the Sasna Tsrer armed group, has been completed, and the case has been sent for trial, Ghukasyan’s lawyer, Karen Mezhlumyan said in a conversation with Epress.am. According to the lawyer, of the 8 persons arrested on July 26, 2016, all but Ghukasyan have been released on bail, while the ex-presidential candidate continues to remain behind bars.

“Not only are they not releasing him, but his case has also been separated from the others. From the moment of his arrest and up until April 2017, Ghukasyan was being accused of organizing mass riots. But right after the National Assembly election, the prosecution brought more serious charges against him, and now he is accused of the same crimes as some of the members of the Sasna Tsrer Group,”

Recall, the members of the armed opposition group are variously charged with a range of crimes, including killing three police officers, hostage-taking, destruction of property, and weapons theft in conjunction with the July 2016 takeover of the Erebuni police station in Yerevan.

Mezhlumyan believes the new charges against Ghukasyan to be unfounded as during the preliminary investigation they were refuted by evidence in the form of video footages and testimonies of witnesses, including 5 journalists. What’s more, the lawyer is convinced that during the preliminary investigation investigators repeatedly violated Ghukasyan’s right to defense by denying the lawyer’s numerous motions for an opportunity to question the witnesses of the demonstration. The accusation that Ghukasyan allegedly urged people to take up stones and try to penetrate the territory of the police station, according to Mezhlumyan, was reinforced by the testimony of only one witness who has a criminal record and who is listed in a psychiatric institution. “This witness, therefore, is rather vulnerable and can be easily controlled,” the lawyer suggested.