By Astghik Bedevian
Riot police used force on Friday to disperse more than 200 opposition supporters outside a court in Yerevan where seven prominent opposition members stood trial on controversial coup charges.
Court hearings in the trial were adjourned just minutes after their start for the sixth consecutive time because of the defendants’ continuing refusal to stand up and show respect for Mnatsakan Martirosian, the judge in the high-profile case. Martirosian again deemed their defiant stance a “disrespectful attitude to the court.” He scheduled the next court session for January 30.
Moments later the people that gathered outside the court building in a show of solidarity with the defendants tried to march to the Office of the Prosecutor-General located in the city center. Dozens of riot police blocked their way, saying the protest was not sanctioned by municipal authorities and is interfering with street traffic.
Scuffles and arguments between protesters and the police followed. “Get out of here!” shouted once officer. A woman with a bloodied face screamed in the meantime. Another protester, an elderly man, was hit by Robert Melkumian, a police colonel leading the protest break-up, when he strayed off the sidewalk.
The crowd was pushed back and split into three sections before dispersing an hour later.