Armenian General Prosecutor Artur Davtyan yesterday met with the relatives of the ten arrested Sari tagh men who have been staging an open-ended sit-in protest outside Davtyan’s office since Monday. The protesters insist that the charges against their relatives – who are being accused of committing violence against law enforcement officers – are unfounded and too vague; they demand that the authorities either specify the charges or otherwise release the men.
Speaking to Epress.am on Friday, Lala Bernetsyan, wife of arrestee Edvard Zeytunyan, said the General Prosecutor has told the protesters that three of the men – Harutyun Torosyan, Arman Adamyan and Zhora Avetisyan – could be granted conditional release if they pleaded guilty to the charges. The demonstrators, however, argued that the men shouldn’t have to plead guilty to unclear charges and told Davtyan that they would continue protesting until their demands were met.
Liparit Simonyan, a lawyer for 5 of the suspects, told Epress.am for his part that at this stage the Prosecutor’s Office had no authority to decide whether the men could or couldn’t be released. “The decision has to be issued by the court. The General Prosecutor’s offer, in my opinion, dishonors the court and it’s right to a final verdict. On the other hand, [Davtyan’s offer] might have meant that the court would do as told by the Prosecutor’s Office, which is an exertion of pressure against the court,” Simonyan said. He added that he also intended to file a motion with the General Prosecutor’s Office to clarify the charges against his clients.
The ten Sari Tagh men allegedly committed violence against police officers during the clashes that occurred in the neighborhood on July 19, the second day of the stand-off in the nearby police headquarters in Yerevan’s Erebuni district; if convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison. The accused, however, insist that on the day of the clashes they had gone out to find out the causes of the power and water outages in their neighborhood and that their actions were not targeted against law enforcement officers. Incidentally, none of the allegedly affected police officers has identified any of the accused. Moreover, they have acknowledged in their testimonies that the Sari Tagh men had taken to the street because of their household problems.