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Criminal Case Launched Over Allegations of Police Torture Against Armenian Convict

The Special Investigation Service of Armenia has launched criminal proceedings over allegations of police torture against Hovhannes Cholakhyan convicted of storage and transfer of narcotic drugs. Despite this, the Court of Cassation dismissed the appeal filed by Cholakhyan's attorney.

Taguhi Cholakhyan, the convict's mother, first spoke of the alleged violence against her son on May 19, when the woman held a protest sit-in in front of the residence of the Armenian president demanding that her son be acquitted. Police, the woman claimed, did everything to force a confession from her son;  they even burned his fingers on the furnace, she said. 

In an interview with Epress.am Hovhannes Cholakhyan's attorney, Seyran Azizyan said that despite the criminal case initiated by the SIS, the Court of Cassation dismissed the appeal challenging his client's conviction. Currently, the defense is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the indictment, Cholakhyan transferred 0.686 grams of heroin and 0.57 grams of amphetamine to “Sevan” penitentiary convict Arthur Gevorgyan; however, Gevorgyan testified that he was not acquainted with Cholakhyan. Notwithstanding the testimony, the court found Cholakhyan guilty of the crime and sentenced him to 11 years and 3 months in prison.

The preliminary investigation, the attorney claimed, has collected false evidence against his client: “In particular, the signatures of the witnesses have been forged. The witnesses were staff members of the penitentiary who came to testify in court, and the signatures provided by them in court were obviously different from the signatures in the protocols. We motioned that a forensic signature examination be conducted, but the court dismissed the appeal.” According to Azizyan, no evidence was found in the course of the personal search either.

“Cholakhyan was captured on January 4, but he was soon released as there was no valid basis for the arrest. Five months later, when my client was convicted in another case, these charges were brought against him, too,” the attorney said. 

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