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What Types of Legal Violations Exist In Relation to the Gyumri Murder Case

If the Prosecutor General of Armenia Gevorg Kostanyan stated that the suspect in the murder of the 7 members of the Avetisyan family Valery Permyakov will be subject to criminal liability on Armenian territory, then does that mean that the court decision related to the case would convene at an Armenian court? The latter issue was raised by lawyer Harutyun Baghdasaryan in an interview with Epress.am. Baghdasaryan stressed that otherwise it would be considered a violation of the Armenian constitution.

The lawyer cited the 91st article of the RA Constitution which states that “In the Republic of Armenia justice shall be administered solely by the courts in accordance with the Constitution and the laws. The final acts of the court shall be adopted in the name of the Republic of Armenia.”

The Constitution’s 92nd article defines which courts function on territory of the Republic of Armenia: the Court of First Instance, Court of Cassation, and Court of Appeals, while the law also specifies specialized courts. The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia states that establishing emergency tribunals is forbidden.

“Furthermore, articles 1 and 3 of the Criminal Judicial Code notes that the definitive decision for events that take place on the territory of the Republic of Armenia are to be tried in the Republic of Armenia’s courts. While the 14th article of the Armenia’s criminal code clearly defines that an individual who commits a crime on RA territory is subject to liability of the RA criminal code. And it isn’t to be forgotten that according to the 19th article of the RA criminal code, that trials taking place in RA are conducted in Armenian language. In fact, in relations to the Gyumri murder incidents, the Constitution and judicial codes claims that trials taking place on RA territory must only be implemented by a RA court,” said Harutyun Baghdasaryan.

The latter recalled that according to the 4th article of the August 29, 1997 agreement between Armenia and Russia, those Russian military base members who commit crimes outside the military base are subject to be investigated by Armenian law enforcement, while the 5th article states that the Russian Federation investigates crimes that take place in Russian military installations.

“However, the 5th article of the agreement is also problematic and the Constitutional Court must also deal with that and re-examine the issue of the agreement’s constitutionality. The military base’s territory is rented out by the Russian Federation, and that doesn’t mean that that territory falls outside of the Republic of Armenia. The latter is confirmed by the 31st article of the Constitution, which notes that foreigners do not benefit from private land rights. In fact, the 5th point of the article states that crimes that occur must be investigated by the Armenian law enforcement and by Armenian courts,” noted Baghdasaryan.

In relations to the Gyumri incidents, Baghdasaryan believes it is important to stress the National Security Service’s (NSS) role or lack there of. The latter importance is in regards to Valery Permyakov’s attempt of crossing the Armenian-Turkish border, where he was supposed to be subject to investigation by the NSS.

“If we, citizens of the Republic of Armenia, went to the border, were located, threatened to be shot, and laid on the ground (like Permyakov), would we have also been taken to the Russian military base? The border guards are required to hand over the suspect of crossing the border to the Armenian National Security Service. Or how did they know exactly that the person was Permyakov, who essentially had no personal identification on him. He could have been an Argentinian,” said Baghdasaryan.

According to him, territorial jurisdiction and responsibility exists on Armenian territory and it is not conditioned by the individual's residency or citizenship. The lawyer raised the issue of whether the NSS opened a case against the attempt of illegally crossing the border because judicial law (190 article) reserves that right to NSS investigators.

“This is a fundamental issue. Maybe they did open a case, but they haven’t stated it. While if they haven’t opened a case, then the criminal code’s article 329.3 about illegally crossing the state border needs to be implemented; “this Article is not extended to cases when a foreign citizen or stateless person enters the Republic of Armenia to enjoy the right for political asylum stipulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia.” Basically, if the NSS hasn’t opened a criminal case, then it means that Permyakov has appealed for political asylum,” said the lawyer.