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Prosecutors Drop Charges Against ‘Slanderous’ Poet


By Anush Dashtents

The controversial trial of an Armenian man who spent two months in jail for blaming President Robert Kocharian for the October 1999 parliament massacre ended on Tuesday at the request of prosecutors who unexpectedly dropped the politically charged case.

Janik Adamian, a resident of the southern town of Ararat, was arrested last June after writing an allegedly slanderous anti-Kocharian poem and posting it on the walls of local buildings. Adamian and a woman who typed it on a typewriter, Jemma Sahakian, were charged with disseminating a “false criminal accusation” against the head of state, an offence that can lead to up to five years in prison. The two neighbors went on trial in the neighboring town of Vedi late last month.

The prosecutor at the trial, Hmayak Hakobian, asked the judge to end the proceedings, citing a “change of the situation.” He said Adamian and Sahakian no longer “represent a threat to the public.” The request was accepted.

The move followed growing publicity given to the case by the media. The defendants’ lawyers have argued that Adamian simply expressed his opinion and that his prosecution is a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech.

The poem in question, which some Armenian newspapers have published out of solidarity with the self-styled poet, speaks of an unnamed unclean dog that “had a hand” in the 1999 assassination of eight senior officials. Among them was then Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, a native of Ararat. Adamian, who was released from jail last month, does not deny that he referred to Kocharian.

He said on Tuesday that he will continue write “political poems.” “I will not stop my struggle,” Adamian told reporters, but added: “Next time I will not post them on the walls.”
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