It is several days since alarming signals are coming out from the penitentiary institution to the free world. The residents of penitentiaries are warning that life-sentenced prisoner Vagharshak Avetisyan is in termless hunger strike. Today is the fifth day of his hunger strike. As the fellow prisoners reports, nobody has visited Vagharshak Avetisyan during these days. “We ask to respond so that another death case is not registered in Free Armenia,” says the message from the narrow world.
Where did the lawyer look?
After the revolution, Vagharshak has been on a hunger strike for the second time and demands to restore his right to fair trial. He was convicted based on testimony of one person. Illegally, without informing the lawyer during his detention in “Nubarashen” Penitentiary, he was taken to the Goris prison. He have been kept in the police station for almost 4 months and have been tortured constantly. Even the record of his arrest was written with fraud, mentioning that Vagharshak was apprehended, while he had voluntarily appeared before the law-enforcement bodies based on the advice of the attorney Vahagn Danielyan.
When getting even slightly acquainted with the case materials, there is an impression that the 22-year-old had no defender. There is no complaint from the defense lawyer on tortures.
“My son washed cars all day long on the day of murder”
Vagharshak Avetisyan is from Charentsavan, a small town where everyone knows each other. They say that in 2009, when Vagharshak, 22, was sentenced to life imprisonment for cruel murder, the residents did not believe the charge to be true. According to the charge, Vagharshak has killed the taxi driver Mikhayil Hovhannisyan, by hitting his head multiple times with heavy stones. “He would not kill a fly, he was a cute boy,” the villagers were startled.
Regardless, Vagharshak was sentenced by Article 4 of the Criminal Code: murder, robbery, theft, and fraud.
Yerevan resident taxi driver Mikhayil Hovhannisyan’s body was found on April 5, 2008, with open craniocerebral injury in the field not far from the intersection of “Harjis” in the Syunik region. Vagharshak’s mother, Marine Badalyan, assures that her son has worked all day. He washed cars at Nor Nork carwash station.
Marine went to the carwash station with a driver, Andranik, opened the records, saw an appropriate entry confirming that her son appeared to work and was washing cars all day.
The court, however, did not address this alibi.
Prosecutor’s Ombudsman brother did not respond to complaints
Investigators, the prosecutor created a picture of a crime, which was fixed in the verdict almost without any changes.
According to the materials of the preliminary investigation, Avetisyan and his friend, Gor Safaryan, took Hovhannisyan’s “Gas-31” taxi to go to Karabakh, but their real goal was plunder. On the way Vagharshak Avetisyan allegedly demanded to hand over the steering wheel, but the driver did not agree. A quarrel broke out, as a result of which Avetisyan struck heavy stones to the driver’s head, killing him.
His friend, Gor Safaryan, testified that he had been sitting in the car during all that time and had seen everything and then has left his friend and returned to Yerevan. He wrote testimonies against Vagharshak. According to the materials, afraid that it would be revealed, Avetisyan burned the car. Vagharshak Avetisyan does not accept the accusation, assures that he was tortured in Goris police station, where they also threatened to rape and persecute him, forcing him to accept the murder charge. But he never accepted it.
“There is so much information videotaped on so many crimes in telephones of Gevorg Khachatryan and Goris’s operative Radik Bakunts that they ought to be not imprisoned for life but sentenced to death. He brought and showed me a video picturing how a person is handcuffed to a radiator and what they are doing with him. Understand me, I cannot describe verbally. And, after that, they… urinate on the guy. And, he told me they were going to do the same with me and send the video to the prison, and, after that, ‘I wish to see how you are going to survive in there’, he told me. I said I would write… how could I let them to rape me?” told Vagharshak.
The prosecutor was the brother of the ex-Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan, Tigran Harutyunyan. He was annoyed by the fact that Vagharshak’s mother, Marine Badalyan, sent a letter to the Ombudsman regarding the tortures of the police during the investigation.
“Are you complaining against me to my brother?” he told Marine Badalyan. And the prosecutor’s Ombudsman brother did not respond to the mother’s complaints.
The Prosecutor’s Office ignores the newly emerged facts
In the court, Vagharshak Avetisyan only accepted that they forced the taxi to drive to Hadrut and back to Yerevan and then escaped from the car by stealing books, cigarettes and discs. He also admitted that he had taken two phones from two people, but did not intend to steal them. He sold the phones, but could not return the money to the owners.
After the revolution, Vagharshak Avetisyan hoped that his case would be dealt with. He announced a hunger strike in August demanding a meeting with the prosecutor and the Minister of Justice. He reported about tortures against him. As newly emerging circumstances, they could
be the basis for reopening the case. But the Prosecutor’s Office turned a blind eye on these circumstances. Marine Badalyan notes that her son demanded to be given a lawyer.
“I am a lonely woman, I have problems with my back, I have worked my whole life so that I could live with my son and hire a lawyer. They did not even help. So what’s up? There are one hundred advocates for Kocharyan [former President of Armenia charged with breaking the constitutional order resulting in deaths of 10 people and several hundreds of injuries] every day tearing their throats to justify him, but my child, who has suffered so much, cannot hire a lawyer to help him. She tells that the previous lawyer just did nothing in defense of her son.
A part of Marine’s memories is particularly impressive
Marine’s 22 years-old son was kept in Goris Police Station for 106 days with the same clothes. The mother went to Goris and asked to the clothes to be given to her so that she could wash them and bring back, but they did not give them to her. “Oh mom, who would give you my clothes? My pants were soaked with blood so much that they were standing,” explained the son later. The mother went to the store in Goris to buy new cloths for her son. She talked to some Goris residents present in the store. She found out that her son’s tortures have been a topic of discussion in the whole city. “They were saying that there is no policeman in Goris who did not hit him. Whoever has reached there, hit him on head and subjected him to electrical shock. “
The Public Relations Department of the Penitentiary Service confirmed the information that nobody has visited Vagashak Avetisyan on these days. The Head of the Division Nona Navikyan informs Forrights.am: “The administration is working on him, doing psychological, social work, he is under medical supervision: they monitor his blood pressure, heartbeats, but, as of Saturday evening, nobody form the appropriate authorities has visited him yet.”
Has the prosecutor’s office checked the torture report? What steps did it take? Advisor to the Prosecutor General Gor Abramahamyan, who is responsible for the media relations, ignored our questions.