By Astghik Bedevian
Armenia’s Court of Cassation on Friday ordered a conditional release of an opposition supporter convicted by court on a weapons possession charge from further serving out his jail sentence.
The supreme court did not, however, revoke the guilty verdict passed on Husik Baghdasarian by a lower court in late March and later upheld by the appeals court.
Baghdasarian, an active supporter of former president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement, was arrested in the wake of the deadly post-election clashes between opposition protesters and security forces and was later tried on charges of an illegal acquisition, possession and sale of weapons, ammunition and explosives.
The lower court of Armenia’s Ararat province, where Baghdasarian coordinated the Ter-Petrosian campaign during last February’s presidential election, found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to three years in jail. An appeals court later commuted the sentence to two-year imprisonment.
Speaking to RFE/RL, the released opposition member called the decisions of all three court instances as ‘illegal’ and ‘brazenly false’ and said he would seek an acquittal at the European Court of Human Rights.
“All these verdicts, including that of the Court of Cassation are politically motivated,” Baghdasarian charged.
The “urgent release of the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges” has been a key point of the two resolutions on the post-election developments in Armenia adopted by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in the months following the post-election unrest in the Armenian capital.
The Armenian authorities have pledged to comply with the demand, while maintaining that there are no political prisoners in the country. Only a handful of well-known opposition figures, however, have been set free so far.