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Charge Against Political Activist Shant Harutyunyan Changed

The charge against political activist Shant Harutyunyan, who was arrested on Nov. 5, 2013, ahead of an anti-government march he organized, has changed.

Harutyunyan's attorney, Innesa Petrosyan, told Pastinfo.am [AM] that the charge of Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia (RA) Article 316 Section 2 ("violence against a representative of the authorities that is dangerous for life or health") was removed and replaced with RA Criminal Code Article 258 Section 4 ("hooliganism committed with a weapon or another item used as a weapon"). If convicted under this article, Harutyunyan faces a prison term of 4–7 years, whereas in the previous charge, he faced imprisonment of 5–10 years. 

Harutyunyan's attorney has repeatedly said that her client did not use violence against a representative of the authorities, as the police officers on the scene were in civilian clothes.

"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," Petrosyan said in a press conference last week