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Shant Harutyunyan Couldn’t Know that Men in Civilian Clothes were Police Officers: Attorney

The preliminary investigative body in the case of Shant Harutyunyan and his friends, who were arrested almost 5 months ago, has not taken any investigatory action till today, said Harutyunyan's attorney, Inessa Petrosyan, at a press conference earlier today. 

Recall, Harutyunyan is charged under RA Criminal Code Article 316 Section 2 ("resistance to a representative of the authorities while in the line of duty or forcing him to perform obviously illegal actions, committed with violence or threat of violence"), but, according to his attorney, in this article his deed does not constitute a crime and the accusation is unfounded.

Shant, added his lawyer, tried to express his opinion; he voiced his problems in the public square. "And on that day [November 5, 2013, the day of his arrest], prior to entering the procession, he warned the police, so that they refrain from provoking the protestors. From the charges against him it appears that the so-called victims, it's clear, were in civilian clothing, and Shant couldn't have known that the people in civilian clothes were police officers," she said.

Petrosyan said that over these past 5 months they hoped that this charge would be removed, but till today not only has it not been removed, but also the sentence is extended once every two months: "instead of removing the accusation, they say that the preliminary investigation will be completed soon and the case will go to court."

"Let me add that there have been no confrontations. Shant refused to testify. Harutyunyan and the others are persecuted for their political views and not for committing a criminal offense. As a punitive measure and to have him fall in the eyes of society, Harutyunyan was moved to a mental institution, where he was kept for 20 days, knowing full well that even at the last examination it was proven that he is not mentally ill," she said. 

Hovhannes Kocharyan, the attorney of Misak Arakelyan, who also was arrested on Nov. 5, said that the preliminary investigation failed to ensure a proper and objective investigation. 

"During these months, we were unable to get any evidence or information that police officers suffered as a result of Misak Arakelyan's actions. There is no evidence that those explosives are ammunition, as a result of which police officers suffered," he said. 

According to Kocharyan, the preliminary investigative body is not independent and cannot act objectively. "Police officers are the victims in the case and investigating the case are police officers. I'm not an optimist, and I don't think the accusation against my client will change to a more lenient article," he concluded. 

Another guest at the press conference, head of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office Artur Sakunts (pictured, left), said that if the authorities don't smarten up, protests and acts of (civil) disobedience will be organized for the duration of the trial in court.