Deputy Justice Minister Suren Krmoyan on Tuesday dismissed concerns voiced by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch about the alleged ill-treatment of four arrested members of an armed Armenian opposition group during their ongoing trial.
The defendants claimed to have been beaten up by police officers immediately after a tense court hearing on June 28 in the trial of 18 radical oppositionists who seized a police station in Yerevan last year. The Armenian police denied the allegations. Nevertheless, another-law-enforcement agency, the Special Investigative Service (SIS), said last week that it will conduct an investigation.
In a weekend statement, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Armenian authorities should “promptly and thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice.” “No amount of anger at the crimes these men are charged with, or tension at the trial, can justify physical abuse of the defendants,” it said.
“We are grateful to all of our international partners for bringing up issues and proposing best solutions,” Krmoyan said in response to the statement. “But it’s not up to international structures to determine the guilt of individuals, the occurrence of an incident or the mode of responsibility.”
Krmoyan also dismissed HRW concerns that police officers involved in the alleged ill-treatment are still on duty in the courtroom. “Law-enforcement bodies have repeatedly said that a criminal case has been opened and an investigation is underway,” he told a news conference. “Let us also not forget about the presumption of innocence.”
“We cannot already say that a particular individual is guilty and they must not perform their duties,” added the official.