An Armenian opposition activist was remanded in pre-trial custody on Monday on charges of assaulting a police officer during street protests against a controversial construction project in Yerevan.
Dmitry Harutiunian, a member of an opposition movement called Preparliament, was among several dozen activists that joined residents of Yerevan’s northern Arabkir district in trying to stop what they call the illegal construction of a residential building in their neighborhood.
Riot police used force after they blocked an adjacent street on August 24. Twenty-six activists were detained on the spot and released several hours later. The construction was effectively suspended in the following days.
Harutiunian was arrested at the weekend in a country house belonging to his relatives. He was subsequently charged with inflicting “don-dangerous” injuries on one of the policemen who clashed with the protesters. The criminal case against him is based on testimony given by this and another law-enforcement officer. The 32-year-old activist and his lawyers deny the accusations as baseless.
A district court in Yerevan allowed the police to keep Harutiunian under pre-trial arrest for up to two months. Harutiunian’s lawyers said they will appeal the ruling. The court also rejected their plea to free him on bail.