Five arrested members of an armed Armenian opposition claimed to have been brutally attacked by police on Wednesday immediately after the latest court hearing in their ongoing trial in Yerevan.
The presiding judge told law-enforcement officers to remove three of them -- Areg Kyureghian, Mkhitar Avetisian and Smbat Barseghian -- from the courtroom moments before cutting short the hearing. They as well as two other defendants -- Arayik Khandoyan and Gagik Yeghiazarian -- told their lawyers afterwards that they were beaten up in the court building’s basement before being transported back to their prisons.
The lawyers submitted on Thursday a written “crime report” to the Office of the Prosecutor-General, demanding the immediate launch of an investigation. Some of them visited their clients at the Nubarashen prison in the morning.
“Arayik Khandoyan was really subjected to violence and tortured in the most brutal fashion,” Khandoyan’s lawyer, Arayik Papikian, told reporters outside the prison compound. Papikian claimed that his client was beaten up by the policemen after protesting against the ill-treatment of Kyureghian and Avetisian.
“I have no doubts that he at least suffered a concussion because his condition is very bad. He was hit particularly hard in the head and kidneys. His feet were also injured,” Papikian said, adding that Khandoyan has still not received adequate medical aid.
Papikian and other lawyers also said that the Nubarashen prison administration inspected the men and documented the injuries suffered by them. They demanded a copy of corresponding medical report which they said was drawn up by the administration.
Representatives of the office of Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, visited Khandoyan, Avetisian and Yeghiazarian earlier on Thursday and confirmed various injuries sustained by them. In a written statement, the office demanded an immediate investigation into “apparent elements of a crime” committed against the suspects.
As of late afternoon, neither the prosecutors nor a Justice Ministry division managing Armenia’s prisons clarified whether the torture allegations are being formally investigated. The Armenian police, for their part, said that they are not in a position to investigate such incidents.
The high-profile trial stems from the July 2016 attack on a police base in Yerevan’s Erebuni district that was launched by armed members of Founding Parliament, a radical opposition group. The gunmen demanded President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation. They laid down their arms after a two-week standoff with security forces which left three police officers dead.
More than 60 persons are prosecuted in connection with the Erebuni standoff. The trial of the 14 leading members of the armed group began on June 8.