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Verdict in Yerevan District Court Postponed Due to Judge’s Unexpected Transfer

The final verdict on Irina Ghazaryan's and Nana Muradyan's complaint against police officers, due to be issued Monday, was postponed yesterday at the first instance court of Yerevan's Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun administrative districts. Recall, the mothers of two Armenian soldiers who died during military service in 2010 had filed a court complaint late last year, demanding that criminal proceedings be initiated against police officers who had used excessive force against them in spring, 2015. 

Minutes before the start of Monday's hearing, however, the court clerk informed the plaintiffs that judge Armen Khachatryan had been transferred to another district court. The clerk failed to provide the reasons for the transfer, claiming that they had just been informed of the decision. 

Speaking to Epress.am, the mothers' representative, Haykuhi Harutyunyan, called the situation “absurd.” She stressed that the latest decision on the replenishment of the lists concerning professional advancement had been published on the website of Armenia's judiciary on November 24, 2015. At the same time, the lawyer assumed that the lack of corresponding publication was due to Khachatryan's fairly recent transfer; however, she added, the plaintiffs should have been notified properly about the changes, as well as the postponement of the verdict. 

The judges, as stated by Harutyunyan, are normally given time to complete all ongoing court proceedings before they are transferred, and in the mothers' case the judge only had to hand out the verdict.

“They should have informed us in the morning that [the hearing] had been postponed,” Irina Ghazaryan complained. 

The plaintiffs subsequently contacted judge Khachatryan's staff and were told by his assistant that he had indeed been transferred to the Ajapnyak district court. The staffer, who refused to go into details about the transfer, added that the plaintiffs had to wait for the appointment of another judge, after which they would receive a notification about the next hearing date.

Recall, on May 13, 2015, law enforcement officers forcibly removed five demonstrating parents, including the plaintiffs, from the sidewalk in front of the Armenian presidential residence. As a result of the police's violent actions, the two women sustained physical injuries; a criminal case was initiated and subsequently terminated by Armenian Special Investigation Service (SIS).