By Anna Saghabalian
The legal team of a newspaper editor serving a four-year prison term for draft evasion call the sentence passed by a Yerevan lower court too harsh and want it reduced by the appeals court.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” newspaper editor-in-chief Arman Babajanian’s defense attorney Robert Grigorian says in passing the sentence the court did not consider the mitigating circumstance that his client had pleaded guilty to the charge of illegally avoiding compulsory military service.
All but the strictest sentence envisaged for the crime by the country’s Penal Code (which is five years in prison) was applied against 30-year-old Babajanian in September, which was only six months shorter than the one demanded by the prosecutors.
Meanwhile, Grigorian says his client hardly deserves ‘being corrected and isolated from society.’
Two more lawyers, Zaruhi Postanjian and Hayk Alumian, will join Babajanian’s defense team when the appeals court starts considering the case on Tuesday.
Alumian claims the authorities considered the case to be special from the very outset. He emphasizes the fact that a senior investigator of the Prosecutor-General’s Office was put in charge of the preliminary investigation, whereas similar cases are usually investigated on a district level.
“This shows that the case was clearly singled out of other similar cases,” Alumian says.
Postanjian says they also want to take advantage of the law that allows draft dodgers in 1992-2005 to avoid prosecution in exchange for paying a hefty sum of up to $4,800.
The law has already been applied to many young people who avoided compulsory military service in that period and the lawyer sees no reason why the same law could not be applicable to her client, who was convicted for avoiding conscription in 2002. Postanjian says investigators did not even remind her client of this option at the stage of preliminary investigation. Meanwhile, according to her, this is a usual practice in similar cases.
Babajanian submitted a relevant application to the Ministry of Defense in mid-October. Under the law an answer should be provided within a month after submission.