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Former Armenian Serviceman Promised Treatment Abroad, Sent to Jail Instead

27-year-old former contract serviceman Davit Hakobyan, a native of the village of Mayisyan in Armenia's Armavir province, was left disabled five years ago after an unsuccessful surgery in Yerevan’s central military hospital. In December, 2015, the former soldier was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison for making multiple telephone calls to the police over false terrorist attacks.

Back in 2012, Hakobyan was rushed to Muratsan military hospital after suffering severe abdominal pains during a training session at his military unit, where he was unsuccessfully operated on by surgeon Gagik Tunyan.

Speaking to Hetq.am, Davit's father, Sergey Hakobyan, said that the family only found out about the incident two days later; “We learned through someone that our kid had already undergone surgery; meanwhile, we'd been looking for him for 2 days. We found him in a very bad state; he had been operated on twice within a day and had fallen into a coma. When he finally came to 10 days later, he did not recognize us and could barely talk. Then he started to stutter. His left side was paralysed. They wrote in the epicrisis that my son had suffered a stroke during surgery; doctors [at Muratsan hospital] said he'd remain bedridden.”

Specialists from other institutions, the father continued, were soon invited to evaluate the patient's condition, and it was discovered that the former soldier had not suffered a stroke; he had, however, suffered nerve damage due to the surgeon's mistakes. Furthermore, the Hakobyans' later found out that the soldier had actually been suffering from intestinal inflammation, but the Muratsan doctors had misdiagnosed him with stomach ulcer. Defense Ministry officials called on the dismayed parents not to file a complaint against the surgeon, promising to arrange Davit's treatment in Germany. 

Then-defense minister Seyran Ohanyan paid the Hakobyans a total of 1 million drams (just over $2,000) in compensation for medical expenses and said the ministry would cover the cost of Davit's treatment in Germany, given that the surgeons were responsible for the complications.

“They dragged the issue for over a year and finally said that there was not enough money in the state budget to send Davit to Germany,” Sergey Hakobyan said. Officials' failure to carry out their promise, the father added, resulted in his son becoming increasingly angry and reporting false bomb threats to the police. At first, the former serviceman phoned the police to report that a bomb had been planted at Seyran Ohanyan's office, and over the next few days, he made another two false reports regarding bombs planted at the presidential residence and the Muratsan military hospital. His intent, Hakobyan said in court, was to attract the authorities' attention to his problem.

“My son's health is getting worse; his left side is weakening, he can barely use his [left] arm and leg. If he were at least granted early release, we'd continue his massage treatment at home,” the father told Hetq.am, adding that his son has already been denied three parole appeals.