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Jailed Oppositionist’s Lawyers Prepare Suit at European Court


Armenia -- Nikol Pashinian, a fugitive opposition figure and newspaper editor, talks to journalists moments before turning himself in.
Lawyers of an opposition daily editor who was jailed earlier this month in connection with last year’s post-election unrest shortly after turning himself in to law-enforcers have said they will turn to the European Court of Human Rights over the continuing ‘illegal detention’ of their client.

In particular, the lawyers said they will appeal the decisions of Armenia’s lower and higher courts to keep Nikol Pashinyan in custody pending trial, which they said are ‘illegal’ and ‘groundless’.

Nikol Pashinian, the 34-year-old editor-in-chief of “Haykakan Zhamanak”, was one of the most influential and passionate speakers at the anti-government protests staged by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian in the wake of the disputed presidential election in February 2008.

Pashinian and several other opposition figures went underground following the violent suppression of those protests on March 1-2, 2008. He was charged with organizing “mass disturbances” and “unsanctioned rallies” as well as defying “representatives of the state authority.”

After 16 months of unsuccessful attempts by the authorities to track down and arrest him, Pashinian turned himself in following a general amnesty bill passed by the Armenian parliament that also applies to opposition supporters prosecuted over the post-election developments.

Authorities, however, refused to grant bail to Pashinian as he was remanded in pre-trial custody two days after emerging from hiding and surrendering to the Armenian police on July 1.

“These decisions have violated Pashinian’s rights that are enshrined in Article 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,” Pashinian’s lawyer Ara Zakarian told RFE/RL. “The defense counsel are already working on the complaint and will send it to the European Court of Human Rights soon.”
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