An Armenian prosecutor demanded on Tuesday a 14-year prison sentence for a man who opened fire outside a Yerevan court last year to protest against the trial of 14 activists jailed for staging a violent anti-government demonstration.
Hayk Kyureghian, 32, fired gunshots from a pneumatic pistol towards police officers guarding the court in June 2014 moments after approaching journalists to express indignation at what called an unfair trial. He was overpowered and detained by the policemen.
The Armenian police said afterwards that the gunfire left several officers injured. Kyureghian claimed to have been tortured during and after the arrest. He was charged with committing a “hooligan act” that endangered the lives of law-enforcement officers.
The 14 men, who attempted to stage an anti-government “revolution” in November 2013, stood trial on similar charges.
Kyureghian has not been present at most court sessions in his trial that began in November 2014. The presiding judge expelled him from the courtroom after he refused to stand up in protest.
The trial prosecutor, Harutiun Sargsian, demanded the lengthy prison sentence at the latest court hearing held in the defendant’s absence. He said that Kyureghian’s actions posed a “serious danger to the society” and must be punished accordingly.
The demand drew angry condemnations from the defendant’s relatives and friends present in the courtroom. “This is a typical punishment by the regime of a person threatening their hold on power,” his father, Armenak Kyureghian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“This is a disgrace,” said Artur Sakunts, a prominent human rights activist. “We now have yet another victim of political persecution.”
Sakunts said the harsh punishment sought by the prosecutors contrasts with the Armenian authorities’ lenient treatment of their well-known loyalists notorious for violent conduct. This only proves that the case against Kyureghian is politically motivated, he said.