By Ruzanna Stepanian
State prosecutors on Friday began to gather materials in connection with alleged mistreatment of two witnesses in police custody after a written request by a human rights activist.
In a letter addressed to several bodies, including the Prosecutor-General’s Office, on Thursday Mikael Danielian of the Armenian Helsinki Association, in particular, referred to the accounts of two witnesses brought to a police department and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by police investigators. The human rights activist said no one has been held responsible for the actions and urged the prosecutors to launch a criminal inquiry into the case.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office invited Marine Grigorian and Hayk Melkumian on Friday to give explanations in connection with their claims.
Both are workers at the Pandok restaurant that belonged to Levon Gulian, a young man who died under unclear circumstances on May 12 while being interrogated as a presumed witness of a deadly gunfight near his restaurant. A criminal inquiry into the incident is underway. Police claim Gulian tried to escape and fell to his death from the second floor of the building. But his family allege a deadly torture.
Now state prosecutors consider launching a criminal inquiry into the claims of the other two witnesses interrogated along with Gulian on that day.
Both claim illegal imprisonment. Marine alleges she was subjected to duress and humiliating treatment by interrogators and Hayk claims to have been beaten up.
Marine, who had already told what happened to her at the police department of Yerevan’s Shengavit district in the past, refused to give explanations again, saying that she would not write or sign anything without a lawyer. Subsequently, the procedure was postponed to Monday.
Earlier, Marine had told RFE/RL of her 12-hour ordeal at the police department on May 10.
She claims pressure from interrogators who threatened to take her down “to the place where busted hookers were kept” and after which she would “tell everything.”
“They didn’t care that I am a woman, talking rudely to me. When I asked for a glass of water, they referred me to the toilet to drink from the water closet.”
Marine says she was kept at the police department for 12 hours on that day, after which was taken to the Prosecutor’s Office, where she was kept for several more hours before being released.
On May 12, the day when Gulian died, Marine was again called to Shengavit’s police department and told that Hovik Tamamian from the police’s criminal investigations department wanted to ask her a few questions.
“I was hastily driven there, but I never met Hovik Tamamian. We had waited in the reception room for nearly a quarter of an hour, but no one received us. Tigran [the police worker who drove her there] asked the man on duty to call someone to take me to Hovik Tamamian, but no one came down. Tigran several times dialed Tamamian’s mobile phone number, but his calls weren’t answered,” Marine remembers.
“And then I saw some commotion in the yard, I saw police workers. It was after 3 pm. The incident [to Gulian] had already happened. I would have surely seen it had I moved a few steps closer to the yard.”
Marine says she didn’t understand what was happening then. She says she was hastily put on a taxi and driven back home.
The police have repeatedly denied that Tamamian interrogated Gulian.
Marine says she hasn’t received any phone calls from the Shengavit police department or requests for meeting with Tamamian ever since.
Now she hopes that all those responsible for her ordeal and Gulian’s death would be brought to responsibility.
“I hope they will be punished. No one knows what is happening in the police, but I know for a fact what happened in the police,” she says.