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Prisoner: ‘I was Tortured and Not Released Because of Complaint Against Prison Deputy Chief’

Shirak District Court of First Instance on Tuesday examined the application of prisoner Artak Hakobyan, who asked the court to overturn the penal institutions board’s rejection of his application for an early release.

Hakobyan, who is being kept in Artik Penitentiary, claims he is being kept in prison as revenge, though he has served two-thirds of his sentence and can be released. According to him, the reason for the revenge is that senior officials were arrested on the basis of his testimony: Nubarashen Penitentiary Deputy Chief Davit Muradyan and another employee of the same penitentiary. The board rejected his application for early release on the grounds that there’s a high risk he will harm himself, and board members assessed the process of reforming the prisoner as progressing poorly.

Note, Davit Muradyan was arrested in May this year for accepting a bribe of $14,000 USD from Artak Hakobyan.

In court yesterday, Hakobyan said the reasoning is false.

“Artik Penitentiary interim deputy chief Aghasi Khachatryan and the person responsible for the sociopsychological department, Robert Petoyan, told me because of you, two serious people were arrested. If we assess you positively, they’ll destroy us. As for ‘harming myself,’ they’ve extorted [money from] me, wanted a bribe; they’ve taken it and cheated me. Who in my place would not resort to self-harm? I’ve thrown away a bushel of money. I don’t deny that [at Hrazdan Penitentiary] I burned everything, made a attempt to harm myself and asked to be taken to Nubarashen, since I have issues with the deputy chief. On Feb. 11, they moved me to Artik Penitentiary, kept me in inhumane conditions in a ‘punishment cell’ for 4 months , because I wanted to smother bribe-taker Davit Muradyan’s case,” said Hakobyan in court.  

The prisoner, however, noted that though Muradyan was arrested, his friends, which include Aghasi Khachatryan and Robert Petoyan, are still at large. Hakobyan added that the two men have threatened to poison him.

Hakobyan’s wife, Hayastan Hakobyan, told Epress.am that after giving Muradyan a bribe of $14,000 USD, Hakobyan wasn’t transferred to the hospital for prisoners and was not released early, as per their agreement, and the imprisoner resorted to self-mutilation, by sewing his eyes in Dec. 2012. After that, he was tortured, and later transferred not to the hospital but to Hrazdan Penitentiary, then Artik Penitentiary, where he was kept in solitary confinement for 4 months.

Despite these circumstances, the court, presided over by Judge Ashot Manukyan, rejected the prisoner’s application and did not overturn the board’s refusal of an early release.

Hakobyan was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison for “hooliganism.” He has already served 3.5 years of his prison term. After the National Assembly adopted a resolution on amnesty, Hakobyan’s sentence was reduced by one year.