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Armenian Soldier Accused of Injuring Himself to Avoid Service ‘Needs Compulsory Psychiatric Treatment’

Sargis Sahakyan, a former soldier of a Nagorno-Karabakh military unit who was temporarily jailed for allegedly committing self-harm in an attempt to get himself exempted from military service, was in a state of emotional instability at the time of shooting himself in the leg, according to forensic psychiatric assessment.

Sahakyan was drafted in 2014. In the first month of service, the conscript injured his right knee during physical training and had to undergo a long-term treatment at the military hospital. However, Sahakyan was soon discharged from the hospital and transferred back to the military unit without having been fully cured, and two days later, the unit commander assigned the soldier to combat duty, in the course of which Sahakyan, who was in an irritable mood due to a pain in his knee, inadvertently shot himself in the left leg.

Three days after the incident, criminal proceedings were initiated under Articles 363.1 and 371.2 of the Armenian Criminal Code – temporary evasion from military service by a serviceman through self-mutilation, and embezzlement or waste of weapons or ammunition. On January 13, 2016, Sahakyan was arrested and transferred to jail in Shushi. The former soldier has since been released on his own recognizance.

According to the results of the first psychiatric evaluation, Sahakyan was deemed “not responsible” for his actions due to an episodic psychiatric instability. The investigator, however, was dissatisfied with these results and motioned for a second examination.

“By putting pressure on the experts, the investigators ensured that Sahakyan was found partially responsible, that is, he was supposedly partially aware of his actions. However, the results of the final forensic psychiatric examination, which we received several days ago, once again confirmed that Sargis was in an unstable emotional state at the moment of the incident,” Sahakyan’s lawyer, Babken Martoyan, said in a conversation with Epress.am.

According to Martoyan, in “any normal country,” the criminal case against the soldier would have been terminated due to lack of criminal intent; “A sick person should be sent to proper treatment and not jail. The latest psychiatric evaluation has confirmed that Sahakyan needs compulsory treatment; he is in a severe depressive mood, and to arrest him would be a huge mistake.”

The lawyer has sent multiple appeal letters to various state agencies and officials, including the general prosecutor and the president; however, Martoyan said, “absolutely no one cares about the issue.”