By Anna Saghabalian
The editor of an Armenian opposition newspaper serving a prison sentence for draft evasion will again be hospitalized after being diagnosed with a serious disease, prison authorities said on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Justice Ministry department overseeing Armenia’s prison told RFE/RL that the administration of Yerevan’s Erebuni jail made the decision after Arman Babajanian of the “Zhamanak Yerevan” newspaper was examined by doctors earlier in the day.
The official, Arsen Babayan, said the doctors led by the chief neurologist of the Armenian Ministry of Health concluded that Babajanian is suffering from poor blood circulation through his head and cerebral problems. Although they said the 32-year-old can be treated in the prison the Erebuni administration decided to transfer him to a civilian hospital on Thursday, added Babayan.
According to Zaruhi Postanjian, an opposition parliamentarian, Babajanian was also examined by a group of other doctors on Monday. They concluded that his health is even more serious, said Postanjian.
Babajanian was already taken to a prison hospital in August 2007 and spent several months there recovering from heart trouble.
Babajanian was arrested in June 2006 and subsequently sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. Armenian courts convicted him of forging documents to dodge military draft. While pleading guilty to the accusations, Babajanian says that he would not have been prosecuted shortly after his return to Armenia from the United States had his newspaper been loyal to the government.
Under Armenian law, convicts that have served at least one third of their prison sentences can ask a special commission appointed by the president of the republic to release them on parole. Babajanian has been repeatedly denied parole over the past year. The commission most recently rejected his parole application on July 18, despite renewed calls for the editor’s early release voiced by fellow newspaper editors and Armenia’s human rights ombudsman. The editors argued that he has already served two years, the length of compulsory military service in Armenia.