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The European Court of Human Rights has ordered the Armenian government to pay 8,000 euros ($10,000) in damages to a man who was kept in prison for more than one year on what turned out to be baseless criminal charges.

Kamo Piruzian, a resident of the northern town of Alaverdi, was arrested in October 2006 on charges of armed robbery and attempted murder which he strongly denied. Citing a lack of evidence, prosecutors dropped the charges 14 months later, during Piruzian’s trial in the nearby city of Vanadzor. The freed suspect subsequently filed a lawsuit to Strasbourg, demanding financial compensation for his ordeal.

The European Court ruled this week that the Armenian law-enforcement authorities and courts failed to substantiate Piruzian’s lengthy pre-trial detention. It said they also violated provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights that ban inhuman and degrading treatment of criminal suspects.

Piruzian’s lawyer, Lusine Sahakian, welcomed the ruling on Friday. “This case is extraordinary,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “A totally innocent individual was accused of attempted murder and armed robbery. There was a lot of evidence fabricated through blatant violations of the law.”

According to Sahakian, her client was detained by the Alaverdi police together with his wife and newborn child. She alleged that police officers hit the woman and threatened to kill the baby as they tried to force her to testify against her husband.

The lawyer also deplored the fact that neither those officers nor the judge who sanctioned Piruzian’s pre-trial detention were held accountable after the case was dropped. What is more, she said, the chief police investigator in the case was subsequently promoted to a higher position in the regional police service.

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