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Sarkis Hatspanian Still in Jail Because of ‘Malevolent Violations’: Justice Ministry Official

This amnesty, as well as the 2009 amnesty, applies to political prisoner Sarkis Hatspanian, but the authorities once again are expressing arbitrariness and they’re not releasing them, Vardan Harutyunyan, head of the Yerevan-based Committee for the Protection of Political Prisoners and Persecuted People, told Epress.am today.

“I consider it likely that they won’t release him this time too, because already a few days have passed since the amnesty was announced and he has not yet been released,” he said.

Note, Hatspanian, a French citizen of Armenian descent, was arrested on Nov. 7, 2008, on charges of false denunciation and sentenced to three years in prison.

According to RFE/RL, Hatspanian came to Armenia in 1990 to join the informal military units fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. In March 2008, outgoing president Robert Kocharian revoked his Armenian residence permit in retaliation for Hatspanian’s unequivocal support for the presidential bid by former president (and current leader of the opposition bloc Armenian National Congress) Levon Ter-Petrossian in the February ballot in which according to official returns Serzh Sargsyan was elected president with some 52 percent of the vote.

Epress.am also asked for comments from Arsen Babayan, head of the public relations office at the justice ministry’s penal institutions department. Babayan said the amnesty applies to the criminal code article under which Hatspanian was charged; however, Hatspanian “committed a malevolent violation of disciplinary procedure”, which is why the current amnesty has not yet been granted to him.

That being said, Babayan also said: “When we began releasing [prisoners], the cases of those people which corresponded to the amnesty decision were released, but now there are cases being examined in the second stage, including Sarkis Hatspanian’s case.”

Note, Hatspanian sent a letter to the Armenian National Congress today in which he writes, though he is imprisoned, he continues to remain “among the pioneers of the nationwide and just struggle.”

Photo: RFE/RL’s Armenian service