Andranik Azibekian, the former chief of police of the town of Ijevan in Armenia’s northeastern Tavush province, has been sentenced to 5 years after being found guilty of forging evidence to save a friend from prosecution.
The court in Tavush also convicted another senior local police officer, Artak Avetisian, who served as deputy head of the regional investigation department, founding him guilty of the same crime and sentencing him to 4 years in jail.
During the trial Avetisian testified against Azibekian and himself, saying that they together falsified materials to allow Andranik Khojumian, the owner of a local restaurant, to get away with gun violence.
Khojumian, who was later convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to six and a half years in prison, shot into the air after his restaurant was allegedly attacked. But in order to save his friend from charges, the former town police chief, according to prosecutors, forged evidence from the scene of crime.
The incident happened in April 2014 and the then Ijevan police chief was arrested several months later.
Azibekian did not admit to committing the crime and insisted on his innocence throughout the trial. Without naming names, he said that the prosecution against him was conditioned by “interests of certain people”. After the publication of the verdict and sentence some in the courtroom shouted against the judge: “Shame on you”.
Azibekian’s defense attorney Mihran Poghosian drew media attention to the fact that the day after the arrest of his client a new chief of police was appointed in Ijevan. “The impression is that someone wanted Azibekian to go to jail,” the lawyer said.
After the publication of the verdict and sentence Poghosian said that the court had failed to ground the charge, “thus once again confirming that it is just an appendix of the prosecution and carries out just notary functions.”
The lawyer said they are going to appeal the verdict and sentence at a higher judicial instance.
Meanwhile, relatives of the former Ijevan police chief threatened to start actions of protests, trying to get justice this way. They briefly blocked an interstate highway near the town of Noyemberyan later on Wednesday.