By Ruzanna Khachatrian
An Armenian opposition activist who was rushed to hospital after being apparently tortured by the police last April said on Wednesday that law-enforcement authorities have abandoned their plans to put him on trial for allegedly assaulting one of his interrogators.
Grisha Virabian said district prosecutors in Yerevan informed him that they have dropped their criminal case against him which was expected to be filed with a court in the nearby town of Artashat. Virabian, who is affiliated with the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), would face at least five years if he was convicted of assaulting a “state official performing their duties.”
Virabian, who lives in a village near Artashat, was arrested by the police for leading a group of local residents to an opposition rally in Yerevan. He underwent urgent surgery in a local hospital on April 24 after several hours of questioning. One of his testicles was removed as a result.
Virabian says officers led by the deputy chief of the Artashat police, Hovannes Movsisian, kicked him in the crotch and sides. He says the interrogation turned particularly brutal after he hit Movsisian with a mobile phone recharging device in response to the latter’s physical and verbal abuse.
The police and prosecutors, however, claim that the 44-year-old father of two himself went on a rampage and have also refused to investigate his torture claims. It was not immediately clear why they decided not to press the charges against the oppositionist.
Virabian was clearly not relieved by the decision, insisting that his tormentors be brought to justice. “I myself will achieve justice,” he told RFE/RL. “In case I fail to achieve my goal all responsibility for my further actions will fall on the authorities,” he warned without elaborating.
Six other opposition activists arrested in similar circumstances last spring have already been jailed for between 9 and 18 months for their participation in the opposition campaign of protests against President Robert Kocharian.
(Photo by Onnik Krikorian: Virabian pictured in his hospital ward shortly after surgery.)