By Ruzanna Stepanian
The family of a man who died in police custody accuse investigators of conducting the case in a biased and one-sided manner and claim their rights have been repeatedly violated.
Levon Gulian’s father Ashot Gulian, wife Jemma Gulian and their lawyer Mikael Danielian of the Armenian Helsinki Association presented these concerns in letters addressed to Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepian, Ombudsman Armen Harutiunian and National Assembly Human Rights Committee Chairwoman Arevik Petrosian on Thursday.
Levon Gulian, a 31-year-old man who was questioned in connection with a murder committed near his Yerevan restaurant, was found dead in the courtyard of a police building on May 12. The circumstances of the case remain uncertain despite the ongoing investigation.
The police insist that he fell to his death while attempting to escape from the second-floor interrogation room. His relatives believe, however, that he was tortured to death before being thrown out of the window.
The victim’s family say despite their numerous requests the investigation body in particular declined to provide them with the copies of the forensic tests conducted in the case.
“This manner of work contradicts a number of Council of Europe documents that the Republic of Armenia is a signatory of,” the authors of the letter underscore, specifically invoking the Council of Europe’s resolution on assistance to crime victims under which states must ensure that the victims can have access to information concerning their case.
“In other words, the Prosecutor’s Office acted illegally by refusing to provide the copies of the expert findings,” the Gulian family charge.
The family and their legal aide also mention mistreatment of two witnesses in the case, Hayk Melkumian and Marine Grigorian, claiming their illegal imprisonment, beating and humiliation by police interrogators. In the letter they say that no one has been held responsible for those violations yet.
“Despite our petitions for a criminal case to be instituted in connection with these circumstances, nothing has been done to date,” they say, arguing that this style of work is against the the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mikael Danielian says all this shows that the investigation is doing everything to close this case.
“We are sending our letter to the Prosecutor’s Office, because it declared that it would be a transparent investigation, those responsible would be found and punished,” Danielian said. “And we are sending the letter to human rights activists because ex-officio they must follow the human rights situation in Armenia and make the authorities respect their commitments in human rights. If they fail to do this, let them quit their jobs.”
The Prosecutor’s Office informed RFE/RL that they haven’t received the letter yet.