Zhirayr Sefilian, a radical opposition figure, will go on trial soon almost one year after being arrested on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Armenian government.
Law-enforcement authorities have ended a criminal investigation into the alleged plot and sent its results to a court in Yerevan.
Sefilian, who leads the Founding Parliament opposition movement, stands accused of acquiring weapons and forming an armed group in late 2015 to seize government buildings in Yerevan. Several other suspects in the case are also under arrest.
State prosecutors claim that the alleged plot was foiled when the weapons allegedly acquired by Sefilian were discovered by the police. According to their indictment submitted to the court, some members of the armed group also refused to participate in what the prosecutor describe as Sefilian’s plan to launch an attack that would have endangered the lives of Armenian army soldiers. The investigators have not yet elaborated on this allegation.
Sefilian and other senior members of Founding Parliament deny the charges as politically motivated. The Lebanese-born oppositionist’s lawyer, Tigran Hayrapetian, dismissed them as “nonsense” on Thursday.
“This accusation proves that in Armenia a person cannot engage in opposition political activities,” Hayrapetian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). He said that during a recent cross-examination Sefilian was on the contrary faulted by another arrested suspect for not attempting a “revolution” in the country.
Sefilian was arrested in June 2016 less than one month before three dozen gunmen affiliated with Founding Parliament seized a police station in Yerevan. The gunmen demanded that President Serzh Sarkisian free their leader and other “political prisoners” and step down. They surrendered to law-enforcement authorities following a two-week standoff which left three police officers dead.