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Volodya Avetisyan’s Sentence Unchanged, decided the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has rejected Karabakh War Veteran and Reserve Colonel Volodya Avetisyan’s appeal, determining that the convicted (Avetisyan) has to continue his punishment.

Today, the Court of Appeal headed by Karine Ghazaryan, began Volodya Avetisyan appeal hearing 40 minutes late. The Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun administrative district court presided over by Levon Avetisyan found Avetisyan (no relation) as guilty of fraud and attempted fraud and sentenced him to 6 years in prison. According to the indictment, Avetisyan received $2,000 from Henrikh Zakaryan to exempt his grandson from compulsory military service and attempted to receive $500 from Albert Matosyan to transfer his son to another military unit. The Court of Appeal decided to examine the case as a cassation procedure.

Avetisyan’s lawyer, Ara Zakaryan, presented three demands during the appeals hearing; first, overturning the first instance court's judgment and to transfer it to a non-Arapkir and Kanaker-Zeytun district first instance court, or to reverse the judgment and excuse Avetisyan, or, if not reversed, to reduce the punishment, in order for Avetisyan to have the possibility of obtaining amnesty.

The lawyer during the appeals hearing also voiced his concern over a number of illegalities. He specifically mentioned that Henrikh Haroyan, the examined witness, has been treated as a suspect instead of a witness. Haroyan was not informed of his rights and was held overnight at the Military Police, which Ara Zakaryan considers as an act of pressure. Zakaryan also presented four motions, specially demanding that Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan be cross examined, the initial case’s investigator to be examined, as well as demanding an explanation from the National Security Service (NSS), in regards to the grounds Avetisyan was followed and phone conversations survellianced.

The prosecutor, Vardan Papikyan claims that Haroyan was held at Military Police because he did not have a place to stay overnight in Yerevan. In response, a member of the “Pre-Parliament” movement Gagik Sarukhanyan asked “if the military police was a hotel?”

Sarukhanyan continued by saying, “let’s leave the court, let’s leave Armenia”, and left the court. In turn, the prosecutor rejected all the motions. After returning from the consultation room, the court left the sentence unchanged.

During the entire investigation, Avetisyan did not admit to the charges; moreover, he repeatedly said the charges against him are a result of political persecution, as he was one of the organizers of protests by war veterans demanding better treatment and improved social conditions. In one court session, Avetisyan said that after one of the protests to improve the social conditions of war veterans he was warned that he will be framed.

In parliament on March 12, Armenian National Congress MP Nikol Pashinyan said that Avetisyan's arrest was politically motivated.

In response to Pashinyan’s statement, Seyran Ohanyan said that he met with Volodya Avetisyan and came to an arrangement that Ohanyan would discuss the matter with the “country’s leadership”, but Avetisyan violated the arrangement and did not wait for the result of the discussions and continued organizing the protests. Ohanyan claimed that the Avetisyan's arrest wasn't politically motivated.