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Armenian Opposition Activist Freed


Armenia -- Tigran Arakelian is greeted by fellow opposition activists after his release from pre-trial detention.

Armenia -- Tigran Arakelian is greeted by fellow opposition activists after his release from pre-trial detention.

An opposition activist was set freed on Thursday after spending more than three months in prison on highly controversial charges stemming from a violent dispute between police and supporters of the Armenian National Congress (HAK).

State prosecutors ordered Tigran Avetisian’s release from pre-trial detention just one week after urging Armenia’s Court of Appeals to let them keep him behind bars at least until a court verdict in his case. The court handed down a corresponding ruling on September 30.

The Office of the Prosecutor-General argued on Thursday that the main “investigative actions” in the case have been completed and that Arakelian will not obstruct the inquiry if set free. It also cited his poor health condition resulting from injuries he sustained during the July 1 incident in downtown Yerevan.

On that day, HAK youths were reportedly confronted by a group of plainclothes police officers as they publicized a rally to be held by the opposition alliance the next day. Arakelian was arrested a few days later and initially charged with “hooliganism.” He was subsequently transferred to a prison hospital in Yerevan.

Late last month, the Armenian police brought against the young man a graver accusation of resistance to a “representative of the state authority performing their duties.” The charge carries between five and ten years in prison.

Arakelian rejected the charges as politically motivated as he walked out of the prison hospital and was greeted by fellow HAK activists. “Just as I didn’t understand why they caught me, I don’t understand why they let me go,” he told journalists.

“I don’t care about the gravity of the accusations,” he said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. They should acquit me … For me, a death sentence would be the same as a 10-day imprisonment.”

Arakelian, who claims to have been pistol-whipped by one of the policemen during the incident, added that his top priority now is to receive medical treatment for a serious injury to his head. “My left eye vision is blurred,” he said. “My optic nerve is damaged and I need serious treatment.”
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