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Woman Sentenced to 3 Years in Jail for Marijuana Possession Denies Accusations

A 25-year-old woman, who was in 2017 sentenced to 3 years in prison for having allegedly shared marijuana with a friend, denied the charges at an Appeals Court hearing on Wednesday.

Anna Hovsepyan, a native of the Achajur village in Armenia’s Tavush province, told the court today that the marijuana had actually belonged to her friend Gevorg Melikbekyan who threatened to kill the woman if she refused to take the blame. According to Melikbekyan, the woman added, she – a mother of two – would easily be able to avoid jail time.

While the court was questioning Hovsepyan about the newly discovered circumstances, her lawyer intervened to state that she did not wish challenge the lower court verdict: she simply wanted a milder punishment for her client, given that she had two children in her care. Note, Hovsepyan has already spent 9 months in the Abovyan women’s prison for alleged possession of 1.07 grams of marijuana.

In her testimony during the preliminary investigation, Hovsepyan admitted that the marijuana she and her friends were planning to smoke on the territory of the Makaravank monastery complex had belonged to her. Subsequently, however, she changed her testimony both in the court of first instance and in the Court of Appeal, claiming that Melikbekyan had been the one to offer marijuana to her and his friend Gnel Gasparyan. “Gasparyan was there, and he saw Gevorg taking the marijuana out of his pocket,” she said. Hovsepyan admitted that in the past she had grown marijuana, but exclusively for her personal use, since she was aware of the consequences of sharing it with others.

“Do your children know where you are? Did you never think about your kids? Didn’t you know that you’d be caught one day?” presiding judge Mher Arghamanyan reproached her in response.