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Charges Against Jailed Oppositionist Not Confirmed by Prosecutor General

Armenia’s Prosecutor General did not confirm the charges against jailed anti-government activist Gevorg Safaryan and has remitted his case to the Special Investigation Service (SIS) for reconsideration, a spokesperson for the General Prosecutor’s office told Epress.am Tuesday.

Safaryan, a key member of New Armenia opposition alliance, was arrested on New Year's Eve after a scuffle with law enforcement officers on Yerevan’s Freedom Square and has since been held in pre-trial custody in Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison. The initial SIS indictment accused him of having assaulted and injured a police officer.

“The numerous shortcomings of the preliminary investigation were quite obvious, and the case in such a state could not have been sent to court. The investigation was one-sided, and it’s only aim was to prove that Gevorg had committed acts that could be qualified as violence against a police officer. [The indictment was based] only on testimonies of law enforcement officers who, naturally, defended their immediate superior. Sending such a case to trial would have been unacceptable,” Safaryan’s lawyer, Tigran Hayrapetyan, said in an interview with Epress.am.

Sooner or later, Hayrapetyan added, they were going to appeal against Safaryan’s arrest to the European Court of Human Rights, and so “law enforcement authorities are trying to mask their flaws.”

“If a case with such violations went to court, and if Safaryan were convicted, his rights would have been grossly violated, and we would have had yet another person prosecuted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He would have been regarded as a political prisoner by PACE, and Armenia does not need such labels. [Law enforcement] realize this, so now they are trying to come up with a more accurate legal wording and assessments,” the lawyer said.