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ECHR to Hear Torture Case Conducted by Post-Revolutionary Police 

On April 8, 2019, Edgar Tsatinyan, aged 37, died as a result of torture by the post-revolutionary police officers in Armenia, compounded by not receiving adequate medical care at “Armenia” hospital. Tsatinyan’s lawyers claim that investigation over his death is stuck, their motions are repeatedly put on hold and up until now the circumstances of his death are not investigated. Representatives of Edgar Tsatinyan’s legal successors have submitted a complaint to the European Court for Human Rights claiming that his rights to life and justice have been violated.   

In April 2019, Edgar Tsatinyan was detained by Nor Nork police officers with a suspicion of murder. Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor (HCAV) human rights organization and Edgar’s relatives claim that during the interrogation, Tsatinyan was severely beaten by the police officers, was threatened to confess to the crime, otherwise they would “drop crystal [narcotic drug] into his pocket” and “lock him up” for good for narco circulation. Tsatinyan simply swallowed the 3-gram narcotic drug in a plastic bag at the police station, after which he was taken to “St Gregory Illuminator” hospital, which refused to admit him and then to “Armenia” hospital. After hours of not receiving proper medical assistance, Tsatinyan died at the hospital.

On April 17, 2019, a criminal case opened at the Special Investigative Service of Armenia over Tsatinyan’s torture. A second criminal case opened at the Investigative Committee against the hospital.

HCAV lawyer Arayik Zalyan, representative of Tsatinyan’s legal successor, immediately applied to the Prosecutor General’s office with a request to provide the full case documentation of the medical institution’s failure and transfer it to the Special Investigative Committee to merge with the case investigated over torture. This request was, however, rejected.

Over the criminal investigation for improper medical assistance to Tsatinyan, up until now nobody has been charged with an offence. In the course of the one-year investigation, only forensic examination has been conducted, which, by the way, is not even complete and the results are not ready. “The pretrial investigative body is not making an effort to fully investigate the case. We’re entering the second year, however they are still investigating and have done nothing, they are waiting for the conclusion of the experts, in order to continue the investigation. However one is not a necessary precondition for the other,” claims lawyer Zalyan.

The numerous objections, complaints and expression of mistrust towards the impartiality of the investigative body have been repeatedly rejected and ignored.

In response to state inaction, Zalyan lodged a complaint with the European Court for Human Rights, claiming that the state failed carrying out its obligation of safeguarding Tsatiryan’s right to life (Article 2, Right to Live, safeguarded by state officials and bodies). He also claimed that Tsatiryan’s several rights enshrined in the European Human Rights Convention were violated.

Zalyan also claimed that the state did not conduct a full investigation of the circumstances of Tsatiryan’s death. Questions on how narcotic drugs were found with Tsatiryan when such substances were not found at the moment of his detention when he was being searched, as well as why the medication institution did not immediately intervene being aware that Tsatiryan swallowed narcotic drugs in a plastic bag, have not been properly investigated and explained. Tsatiryan’s relatives were not even informed of the criminal files opened in relation to failure to provide medical assistance. “In the end, the state failed to ensure Edgar Tsatiryan’s life’s protection, as is required by Article 2 of the Convention,” claims Tsatiryan’s successor’s lawyer.