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Arrested Ex-Defense Minister with Deteriorating Health Refuses Prison Medication

Former deputy defense minister Vahan Shirkhanyan, who was arrested previous December for allegedly having links to the armed gang which Armenia’s security forces had cracked down a month prior, is refusing the medication provided by the Yerevan-Center prison, claiming that they are causing him more harm than good, Hayk Alumyan, a lawyer for Shirkhanyan, told Epress.am today.

“There is no good news about Shirkhanyan’s health; his condition is continuously deteriorating, and the prison staff does nothing about it. He has even started to refuse medications, because they haven’t helped in the year that he has been taking them. On the contrary, his health state has only gotten worse. I can’t say whether the prison officials are doing this intentionally, or it’s just a result of their unprofessional conduct,” Alumyan said.

The lawyer had previously reported that Shirkhanyan had acquired a disability in the 11 months that he has spent in prison, claiming that if authorities did not take effective action to help the arrestee, he would not make it to his trial date.

Alumyan had also sent appeal letters to the Justice Ministry and the office of the human rights ombudsman, calling on the officials to stand up for Shirkhanyan. The lawyer only received a response from the ombudsman’s office, which stated that the arrestee’s right to health had been violated and that he should immediately be transferred to a specialized hospital. The recommendation, however, has yet to be followed by the prison.