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More Opposition Militants Freed


Armenia -- Members of the Sasna Trer group pictured after their release from custody, 7 June 2018.

Two more members of the armed opposition group that stormed an Armenian police base in 2016 were set free on Thursday pending the outcome of their ongoing trial.

The judge presiding over the trial, Artush Gabrielian, agreed to release Tigran Sargsian and Hovannes Vartanian from custody at least until a verdict in the high-profile case.

The decision was requested by their lawyers. The trial prosecutor did not object to it.

Another jailed militant, Areg Kyureghian, was freed on Wednesday. He is standing a separate trial along with a dozen other members and supporters of a radical opposition movement, Founding Parliament, who seized the police base in Yerevan’s Erebuni district in July 2016.

The three dozen gunmen demanded that then President Serzh Sarkisian free Founding Parliament’s jailed leader, Zhirayr Sefilian, and step down. The gunmen, who took police officers and medical personnel hostage, laid down their weapons after a two-week standoff with security forces which left three other policemen dead.

Sargsian’s and Vartanian’s lawyer, Grisha Balasanian, admitted that the release of their clients was made possible by the recent change of government. Balasanian also cited a statement released by the arrested members of the armed group on Tuesday.

They voiced strong support for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government and said they are renouncing violent methods of political struggle.

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