One of several men accused of plotting, together with a radical opposition leader, an armed revolt against the Armenian government has been on a hunger strike for the past two weeks, demanding his release from prison.
The arrested man, Nerses Poghosian, was taken into custody following the arrest on June 20 of Zhirayr Sefilian, the leader of the Founding Parliament opposition movement.
Sefilian was charged with acquiring large quantities of weapons and forming an armed group to seize government buildings in Yerevan. he and other senior members of Founding Parliament deny the charges as politically motivated.
Poghosian is facing similar charges carrying between three and eight years’ imprisonment. He too flatly denies them, saying that he does not even know Sefilian personally and has never been affiliated with Founding Parliament.
Poghosian’s lawyer, Ara Papikian, said on Wednesday that his client began the hunger strike two weeks ago in protest against his detention. The suspect remains determined to continue the protest and has threatened to also refuse water if the authorities reject his demand, Papikian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The lawyer said that the case against Poghosian is based only on incriminating testimony given by two other arrested men. “They were never friends with Nerses,” he added.
A spokesman for Armenia’s state penitentiary system, Gor Ghlechian, said Poghosian is now being kept in a special cell in accordance with Armenian law. Ghlechian said the father of three is regularly examined by doctors and his health condition is “stable and satisfactory.”
Meanwhile, Poghosian’s wife Lia urged him to end the hunger strike, while pleading with the Armenian authorities to free him. She said that the father of three was their family’s main bread winner before his arrest.
“Nerses is irreplaceable in all senses, in terms of both money and taking care of the kids,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Sefilian and the other men were arrested about one month before three dozen gunmen affiliated with Founding Parliament seized a police station in Yerevan. The gunmen demanded that President Serzh Sarkisian free Sefilian and other “political prisoners” and step down. They surrendered to law-enforcement authorities following a two-week standoff which left three police officers dead.