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Supporter of Armenian Political Prisoners Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison

On Tuesday, September 15, the General Jurisdiction Court of the Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts in Yerevan, presided over by Judge Armen Bektashayn sentenced Hayk Kyureghyan, a supporter of political prisoners Shant Harutyunyan and 13 other men who were arrested November 2013 in clashes with police, to 9 years' imprisonment. Kyureghyan was found guilty of hooliganism and committing violence against a representative of the authorities.

Today, a number of people were holding an action in front of the courthouse in support of Kyureghyan. The defendant himself was not present when the verdict was being read: he was removed from the courtroom by judge Bektashyan for acting in contempt of court (Kyureghyan did not stand up when the judge entered the room). 

Note, after being removed from the court for the same reason during one of the first hearings, Kyureghyan was only allowed to attend his own trial on September 11 to speak his last words. The defendant, specifically, stated “the country's authoritarian regime has turned against me and other Armenian citizens.” The accused, however, added he did not regret his protest action in support of Armenian political prisoners: “The condition of regime survival and its consequent aim is to suppress the citizens, to turn them into nonentity. That is, when the regime blocks all the civilized ways for the citizens to defend their dignity, their right to a normal life in this country, [citizens] have to deal with the issue in non-civilized ways.”

Kyureghyan had also declared the 14 years demanded by the prosecution “disproportionate” to his actions. “But don't worry, I'm not going to serve 14 years. I might not even serve 14 days because the regime might not survive that long,” Kyureghyan had told his supporter present in court.

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 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.