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“Supremacy of a Citizen Fighting for Justice,” Armenian Activist Defends Himself in Court

Defendant Hayk Kyureghyan, a supporter of political prisoners Shant Harutyunyan and 13 other men who were arrested last November in clashes with police, participated on Monday, May 25 in the trial in his own case at the court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan. On December 17, 2014, judge Armen Bektashyan removed Kyureghyan from the courtroom for 10 court hours because of “his lack of respect toward the court” – the defendant refused to rise for the judge.

Today, judge Bektashyan said he was doing Kyureghyan a favor by inviting him to be present at the trial where the testimony he gave during the preliminary hearing would be presented.

Recall, at the start of the June 12 hearing in the case of Shant Harutyunyan and his friends, Kyureghyan climbed onto a car outside the courthouse and shot rounds from what seemed to be an air pistol in the police's direction, attempting, he said, to prevent "an erroneous judgment on Shant."

Kyureghyan informed head of a group of civil society members monitoring conditions in Armenian prisons and detention centers Hasmik Sahakyan, who had come to visit him at the Erebuni temporary detention center, that he was ill-treated during and after the arrest.

In court on Monday, Kyureghyan was met by applause. As before, he remained seated when addressing the judge. To Bektashyan's question whether the defendant understood the charges against him and had anything to say for himself, Kyureghyan responded saying that he did not understand the part in the indictment where it said “Kyureghyan asserted his own supremacy.” 

However, the judge did not clarify the indictment, and when Kyureghyan's supporter, war veteran Gagik Sarukhanyan objected, saying “the accused does not understand the charge,” Bektashyan removed him from the courtroom and announced a 5-minute break. 

According to those present at the trial, by delaying a session which had started 40 minutes late with another 5 minutes, the judge wanted to arouse the attendees' anger towards Sarukhanyan. 

As the trial proceeded, Hayk Kyureghyan said he did not agree he had shown supremacy over the public. He, the defendant stated, acted against the Police, not the public, and he showed the supremacy of a citizen fighting for justice, not that of his own – Hayk Kyureghyan. 

Kyureghyan said the Police did not allow him to successfully complete his protest action, and he would “finish what I started next time.”

Judge Artak Bektashyan adjourned the hearing until June 4, in order for a public defender to be assigned to Kyureghyan.