Lala Bernetsyan, the wife of a Yerevan man arrested on July 25 after clashing with police, is accusing law enforcement officials of tampering with her and her husband's testimonies. “They've made it look as if my husband has testified against the guys in the neighbourhood, and as if I, as a witness, have given specific names,” the woman said in conversation with Epress.am Friday, claiming that investigators were “doing this on purpose to make their job easier and because we have no one to intercede for us.”
Bernetsyan's husband, 33-year-old Eduard Zeytunyan, is facing assault charges for hitting a police officer during the July 19 clashes in Yerevan's Sari Tagh neighbourhood. The man could face up to ten years in prison if convicted.
“On the day of the incident he was returning from work when he saw the argument and went in to separate the sides. […] Police are now using video materials to insist that my husband hit an officer, but the same video also shows police hitting ordinary citizens. Police are not angels; no one hits an officer who's just standing there innocently. The guys only returned the blows received,” Bernetsyan said.
Speaking to Epress.am, Liparit Simonyan, a lawyer for Zeytunyan, stated that law enforcement authorities had also violated his client's right to counsel; it wasn't until after spending 72 hours in police custody that Zeytunyan was assigned a layer.
“My husband demanded a lawyer as soon as he was detained, but he wasn't assigned one. Officers told him to 'just sit down and write; it will be better for you this way.' According to the indictment, he has testified against our neighbours. I have no doubt that our neighbours, for their part, have been forced to testify against my husband,” Bernetsyan claimed.
The woman was subsequently called to testify as a witness. She insists that officials made no actual steps to acquaint her with her rights; they did, however, make her sign a document confirming that she had been acquainted with them.
“No one warned me that I did not have to testify against my husband, for example. Anyway, I wrote in my testimony that I did not remember when my husband had left the house on the day of the event. I also wrote that I personally had not left the house or witnessed an argument. But [police] later changed my testimony. My lawyer actually phoned me to ask whether I had written that stuff – specific names of our neighbours who allegedly threw stones at the police,” Bernetsyan told our reporter.
The woman added that her husband, who's being held in Yerevan's Nubarashen jail, has some health problems but is not receiving proper treatment from prison authorities. “A few days after the arrest he started having blood pressure issues but they did not call a doctor saying that it was Sunday. They brought a doctor only after we appealed to the Human Rights Ombudsman. He's still feeling unwell; he says that 'doctors just throw me a pill and leave.'”