Thursday, August 26, 2010

When eyewitnesses are actually the guilty ones, and have gone missing...

The trial of Davit Kiramijyan and Sargis Gevorgyan continued on August 26, but these aren't their pictures... Why do I have these pictures here? The pictures were taken during the May 31 events near Liberty Square when police attacked peacefully gathered citizens. The Tadevosyans (brother and sister on the left)and Ruben Ayvazyan (on the Right) were there, too. But in what capacity? These three are eyewitnesses in the case against the defendants, but failed to show up to court... Not something new in Armenia these days, eyewitnesses seem fail to show more often than they actually show up in cases against opposition activists. But there's even more.

Among the many detentions/forced trips to the police station that occurred over those few days (May 31 was the 3rd or 4th day in a series), at least three individuals were kept for three days (including Ani Gevorgyan and Sargis Gevorgyan), and one of them, Davit Kiramijyan, was kept in detention for over a month. For what? Supposed hooliganism, violence against a government representative, public disturbance... But how did any of that, how did the scuffle which undoubtedly occurred, come to pass?

On June 16, Haykakan Zhamanak published an article which answers this question. Were Varazdat Tadevosyan, his sister Lusine Tadevosyan, and Ruben Ayvazyan mere passer-by's who got entangled and fell victim to a scuffle? It turns out that the two of them at least may have initially presented themselves to reporters as members of the Ombudsman's office, this was however denied by the Ombudsman (aka DollarArmen) in a letter to Police Chief Alik Sargsyan. The two young men, Davit Tadevosyan and Ruben Ayvazyan, were actually arrested as well - they were released on July 3, and further pursuit of the charges against them were dropped. And, as per HZH, these two likely provided, along with the testimony of Lusine Tadevosyan, as alleged eyewitnesses, everything the police needed to charge the oppositionist youth.

The HZH article goes on, though. And it points out in detail how these three actually incited the scuffles and altercations which occurred, all of which can be seen on video footage of the incident: how Lusine Tadevosyan attaked Ani Gevorgyan, how Ruben Ayvazyan and Varazdat Tadevosyan incited arguments with journalists, how Varazdat Tadevosyan tried to stop Ani Gevorgyan from taking pictures, and how the final scuffle which resulted in Davit Kiramijyan being taken away, was actually incited by Davit Tadevosyan... HZH goes on to point out just how convenient it is that the arguments incited by the Tadevosyans and Ayvazyan are always in perfect view of the camera.

I couldn't find the part about the Ombudsman anywhere other than on HZH. I did find several articles (Zhamanak, Aysor) noting that Kiramijyan thought that Varazdat Tadevosyan was part of the police force, which would seem to be the case for those who have watched the videos and followed this story at all. The police often have plainclothes members either beating protesters, hauling them off, or inciting disputes - and watching the videos, you can tell who's who. Plainclothes police stand mingled in to uniformed police, or off to the side or behind the police, coming forward and becoming active when necessary.

And now, the Tadevosyans and Ayvazyan, on whose testimony the case is based almost entirely, are not showing up to court (there is also a Lilit Gevorgyan named, but I'm not sure who she is). They apparently sent word that they were out of the country, but there was no proof of this. Now, the plan is to arrest them and bring them to court.

What a farce. None of it new, and unfortunately none of it surprising. But still, just ridiculous. Just more ways of continuing the intimidation, trying to keep the show going while the theater is on fire, and everyone quiet...

Let's not forget that former political prisoner Vardges Gaspari was not allowed into the courtroom, and neither was Sargis Gevorgyan's own mother. Gaspari was forcibly removed while he practiced civil disobedience - he received several bruises and other injuries while doing so.

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