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By Hovannes Shoghikian
Investigators conducting the criminal case in connection with the mass disturbances of March 1-2 have dropped the charge of ‘illegal arms possession’ against former Deputy Prosecutor-General Gagik Jahangirian, but added a graver charge of ‘usurpation of power’ to his indictment that also includes putting up resistance to law-enforcement officers, both Jahangirian’s legal aides and Prosecutor-General’s Office spokeswoman Sona Truzian confirmed to RFE/RL on Monday.

Jahangirian’s lawyers express their perplexity over the circumstance that it took the investigation body four months to admit that the gun carried by Jahangirian was in fact legal.

They say this decision is more evidence that Gagik Jahangirian is “being a victim of political persecution for having a speech at an opposition rally.”

Jahangirian publicly defied the government as he delivered a fiery speech at a rally held by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian on February 22, three days after Armenia’s disputed presidential election. He said that the vote was blatantly rigged and referred to Ter-Petrosian as its rightful winner.

Jahangirian was sacked as deputy prosecutor-general and arrested the next evening along with his brother Vartan. A car carrying the two men was ambushed and stopped by a special police unit just outside Yerevan. The police said they were armed and planned to “destabilize the situation in the capital.”

In another development, a criminal court in Yerevan on Monday changed the measure of restriction against Jahangirian’s brother and decided to release him from pretrial detention on a written pledge that he would not leave the city’s boundaries. The court made the decision considering his bad health condition.

Vartan Jahangirian was shot and seriously wounded by a police officer during the arrest in still unclear circumstances. The police say the shooting was accidental. Vartan Jahangirian is accused of putting up resistance to law-enforcers.
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