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Judge Denies Motion to Transfer Gyumri Massacre Trial to Armenian Courtroom

On Monday, Shirak first instance court, presided over by judge Harutyun Movsesyan, denied the motion by the lawyers representing relatives of the Gyumri massacre victims to transfer the proceedings from the premises of the Gyumri headquarters of the 102nd Russian military base in Armenia to the Shirak court building.

Human rights activist, Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor office head Artur Sakunts protested upon the start of the trial against the setting of the hearings. He said that “proper working conditions” had not been created at the military base for the representatives of the victims’ successors and reporters.

Sakunts also stated that the conduct of the trial on the territory of the Russian base could “intimidate” Valery Permyakov, the 20-year-old Russian conscript accused of murdering 7 members of the Avetisyan family in Gyumri, which might result in him giving false testimonies: “Valery Permyakov is isolated in a glass cage and denied the opportunity to communicate freely with his lawyers. Holding the defendant in such conditions is a gross violation of the European Convention [on Human Rights].”

The rest of the lawyers of the victims’ successors joined Sakunts’ petition; presiding judge Movsesyan, however, denied the motion, after spending about an hour in the deliberation room.

Sakunts then filed a motion for the judge’s recusal and was once again supported by the other lawyers. The human rights activist claimed that Movsesyan was obviously “not impartial” and therefore unable to ensure fair trial. Defendant Permyakov did not object to the recusal motion either.

The judge denied this motion as well, citing lack of grounds for recusing himself. Movsesyan insisted that there were no circumstances that would prevent him from judging the defendant fairly.

The next hearing will take place Friday, January 22.