A man accused of plotting, together with a radical opposition leader, an armed revolt against the Armenian government, has ended his latest hunger strike which he began more than three weeks ago in protest against his continuing detention.
According to the Justice Ministry, Nerses Poghosian made the decision on Sunday following a further deterioration of his condition. A ministry official said he is now kept at the medical service unit of Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison under the “intensive surveillance” of doctors.
“Obviously, his condition cannot be good after the 24-day hunger strike,” Poghosian’s lawyer, Nina Karapetian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday. “He complained of kidney problems. What worries me the most is his chest pains.”
“He could develop really grave health problems especially given that this was not his first hunger strike,” she said.
Poghosian was taken into custody following the arrest in June 2016 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 denies 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 did not even know Sefilian personally and was never affiliated with Founding Parliament.
Poghosian first went on hunger strike in December. He ended the protest a month later. His second hunger strike lasted for a week, with the authorities again rejecting his demand.
Starting his third hunger strike, Poghosian demanded that the judge presiding over the trial not only order his release from jail but also allow journalists to film court hearings and sanction a trial prosecutor who allegedly insulted him. The judge, Tatevik Grigorian, has refused to meet any of these demands, a stance criticized by the defendant’s lawyer.