State prosecutors have launched criminal proceedings against several police officers suspected of torturing an Armenian opposition supporter who was jailed following the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.
Felix Gevorgian was among more than 100 persons arrested in the wake of deadly street clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian challenging the official results of a disputed presidential election. Gevorgian was the only oppositionist charged with using a firearm during the clashes that left 10 people dead.
The Armenian police later dropped that charge for lack of evidence and accused him of theft. A Yerevan court sentenced Gevorgian to seven years in prison later in 2008, ignoring his claims that he confessed to the charge under duress. He was acquitted and freed by a higher court in late 2010.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the Office of the Prosecutor-General announced that it has opened a criminal case in connection with Gevorgian’s alleged mistreatment at a police station in Yerevan. The oppositionist claims that several officers there beat him up and burned his feet with a red hot metal bar to force him to confess his guilt. None of those policemen has been formally charged yet.
A spokesperson for the prosecutors told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday that the inquiry is being conducted under an article of the Criminal Code dealing with violent abuse of power. It carries between two and six years’ imprisonment.
Virtually none of the police officers has so far been prosecuted in connection with the 2008 unrest and, in particular, the use of lethal force against protesters. The Armenian authorities imprisoned dozens of Ter-Petrosian loyalists instead. All of them were set free by 2011.