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Armenian Convict Appeals Termination of Proceedings Against Top Prison Officials

In a statement issued Saturday, January 16, the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor  office (HCAV) reported that Tigran Safaryan, a lawyer for Nubarashen penitentiary convict Armen Shamiryan, has appealed the decision to terminate the criminal case on abuse of official position against Hrazdan prison deputy warden Samvel Babayan and officer Leonid Mkrtchyan. 

Recall, Shamiryan, a former Hrazdan inmate, had filed a complaint with Armenia's Special Investigation Service against the prison officials, claiming to have had come to an agreement with Babayan over selling mobile phones inside the prison. The inmate's family and friends would buy the phones, while Samvel Babayan would allow their entrance to the prison. The profit from the sale was to be split 50/50 between the parties, however, as stated by Shamiryan, the deputy head went back on the agreement, transferred the prisoner to Nubarashen jail, and kept the entire money for himself.

Subsequently, the SIS initiated criminal proceedings, accusing Babayan and Mkrtchyan of abusing their power. On December 23, 2015, however, SIS head investigator G. Begoyan decided to drop the case due to absence of corpus delicti. Shamiryan appealed against the decision on January 11, 2016, claiming that “the investigation had no initial aim of prosecuting the offenders since the investigator, having in his possession two sourced of conflicting evidence, chose to [build the case] exclusively on the testimonies of the penitentiary's officials.”

The convict's appeal also stated that Shamiryan and his friends “gave logical testimonies, void of any contradictions; the same, however, cannot be said for [Babayan and Mkirtchya].”

“There's an impression that the investigation's 'only hope' was the prison officers' honest confession. Additionally, the inmates who were involved in the transaction either as buyer or witnesses had to avoid telling the truth for safety reasons since the accuses continue to hold their positions in the same prison,” the appeal said.

Armen Shamiryan and his lawyer Tigran Safaryan, as stated in HCAV's statement, demand that the General Prosecutor's office send the case back to preliminary investigation, entrusting it to another investigator.