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By Anush Martirosian
Armenia’s Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a two-year prison sentence that was given to one of the opposition leaders arrested following last year’s disputed presidential election.

Smbat Ayvazian of the Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party was arrested on February 24 and charged with illegally possessing a truncheon and resisting police officers.

A Yerevan court found him guilty of these accusations in November. The former minister for tax collection appealed against what he considers an illegal and politically motivated verdict.

Predictably, a panel of three Court of Appeals judges turned down the appeal, saying that the lower court ruling was fair and substantiated. As the presiding judge, Grisha Melik-Sargsian, read out the decision Ayvazian’s lawyers and supporters walked out of the courtroom in protest.

Ayvazian himself refused to be brought to the court on Tuesday. The first Court of Appeals hearing on the case was cut short last Wednesday because of his refusal to stand up and show respect for the judges. Ayvazian said his appeal is certain to be rejected and that he is only trying to exhaust all possibilities of legal action in Armenia.

One of the defense lawyers, Lusine Sahakian, confirmed that her client intends to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights. “We will definitely appeal not because we hope the [higher Armenian] Court of Cassation will hand down a legal ruling but because we need to exhaust all possibilities of action in domestic tribunals,” she said.

(Photolur photo)
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