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European Court Demands Opposition Gunman Receive Proper Medical Treatment

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has demanded that Armenia’s government immediately provide medical care to Hovhannes Harutyunyan, a member of the Sasna Tsrer (Daredevils of Sasun) armed group who was hospitalized with a gunshot leg injury after a shoot-out with police on July 26 2016, a week into the seige of the police headquarters in Yerevan’s Erebuni district. According to Harutyunyan’s lawyer Hayarpi Sargsyan, however, her client has yet to receive any treatment and “continues to be tortured.”

The ECHR has given Armenian authorities until April 18 to fulfill their 3 demands, the most urgent of which is the provision of medical care. The court has also demanded that authorities create a medical group for Harutyunyan’s follow-up care.

“Hovhannes has not received any treatment so far. On March 21, he was taken to Astghik medical center only to be transferred shortly after to a trauma center because the bone infection unit in Astghik had been shut down. He underwent several examinations at the trauma center but received no actual medical care. The ECHR demand has therefore not been fulfilled,” Sargsyan said.

The lawyer added that the inhuman and degrading treatment towards Harutyunyan has only intensified after the ECHR appeal; “He is in intolerable pain; sometimes, when the pain is so strong that he asks for painkillers, [prison officers] deliberately close the door on him and claim that they have no key. So he is left suffering through the night. He has also begun complaining of liver and kidney pain, and has even experienced rectal bleedings, which, of course, is also being overlooked.”

Harutyunyan is currently being kept “in terrible hygienic and sanitary conditions” in the medical unit of Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison. “After the ECHR decision, the pressure on him has intensified and he is constantly being threatened that he’ll end up in even worse conditions if he does not behave,” Sargsyan said.

She added that the authorities have also been delaying the creation of the follow-up medical group; “Hovhannes’s parents spent serious money to invite foreign specialists to examine him, but the government intentionally dragged the process out so they left without carrying out the examinations. Officials constantly create artificial obstacles to delay the process.”