An Armenian law-enforcement agency said on Friday that it is still investigating reports that four arrested members of an armed opposition group were beaten up during their ongoing trial in Yerevan.
The high-profile trial stems from the July 2016 attack on a police base in Yerevan that was launched by members and supporters of a radical opposition group. The gunmen laid down their arms after a two-week standoff with security forces which left three police officers dead.
Eighteen members of the armed group went on trial in May. Four of them claimed to have been brutally attacked by police officers immediately after a tense court hearing on June 28.
During the hearing, two of them were removed from the courtroom after arguing with the presiding judge and security personnel. They as well as two other defendants told their lawyers afterwards that they were beaten up by police officers in the court building’s basement before being transported back to their prisons.
Although the Armenian police denied the beatings, the Special Investigative Service (SIS) pledged to investigate the allegations. The SIS told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the inquiry is still continuing.
The defendants’ lawyers earlier questioned the SIS’s declared commitment to a fair and objective probe.
“Do not expect a comment from the police at this point,” said Alik Sargsian, the former chief of the Armenian police. “Let other bodies that have a punitive role in this case explain why the inquiry has dragged on so much.”
Sargsian, who is now a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), dismissed suggestions that the policemen assaulted the jailed gunmen in retaliation for their colleagues that were killed and taken hostage during the 2016 standoff.