“I was subjected to physical violence several times a day, but psychological one was more intense. The investigators managed it better:” life-sentenced prisoner

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“16 years ago I was foolish … naïve … probably more self-confident, than now, because at the time I was thinking, how can an innocent person be judged? I thought, it did not even matter that I was forced to say ‘I did’: there is a court that will prove my innocence. I was naïve… “

We met with 34-year-old Emil Chivchyan at Armavir Penitentiary. In his words, he used to read a lot, but now he is unable to cope with visual problems; instead, he develops human contacts.

“Human interaction and the environment connect you with reality, the books keep you romantic.”

In August 2003, junior sergeant Arman Davtyan and brothers Levon and Hamlet Barseghyans were shot dead in the military unit N of the Vanadzor region. Two men were charged with murder, one of whom was the 18-year-old Emil Chivchyan, an ordinary soldier, who at that time was only a 40-day recruit.

“They would say:” Regardless if you accept or reject it [your guilt], you can consider yourself imprisoned “

“Every day after the incident, some people from the Prosecutor’s Office were coming and going, bringing new people. In an ordinary morning, they came and took me away, saying that I have had some money issues with Arman Davtyan, that’s why I killed him, and I killed the two brothers to hide my murder. And what happened? It seems like a movie began … They took me out of my sleeping room and brought and sentenced to life imprisonment,” said Emil, whose hands are still shaking when he tells us about the incident that occurred years ago.

The preliminary investigative body ignored the testimony of 27 witnesses that, at the time of the incident, Chivchyan was sleeping; instead they managed to extract the desired testimony through physical and psychological pressure. It was under the influence of these pressures that Emil confessed “the crime he did not commit:”

“Several times a day I was subjected to physical violence, but psychological one was more intense. Investigators, more specifically, investigators Khachik Ghaltakhchyan and Armen Hakobyan, were very good at it. They would say, “Accept your guilt or not, you can count yourself already convicted.” They took advantage of my inexperience and foolishness. “

There were great controversies between Emil’s testimony and the expert conclusions. “A help came” from a person the identity of whose Emil tried to not disclose to Forrights. According to him, the desirable testimony was obtained through “inhuman” beatings and even shootings under his feet. Emil does not blame him: regardless of who he was, he would surely sign any papers provided by the investigators.

“The “motivation” was allegedly $50, which I gave to Arman Davtyan. And, according to them, I would have killed a man for that trivial sum. I and the killed persons were close acquaintances, we were from the same neighborhood, had common friends and relatives. I told them, I proved it was not me who killed them, but they did not believe … Up to today, I do not know who the killer was: if I knew what the motive was, perhaps, I would have guessed who it was. “

The military prosecutor of that time Gagik Jhangiryan visited Emily only once. The latter brought a knife to Emil and stated that he had held that knife on someone so that that person did not tell anyone about the murder committed by him. Then, seeing that the knife does not fit in any way in the case, he “lost” it.

A few months later the trial phase began, presided over by judge Elizaveta Danielyan…

The father of the killed soldier stated in the court that he believed in Emil’s innocence

“We could not do anything in the court. We were just providing physical presence during the court sessions. All our petitions were rejected, instead, any petition of the prosecutor’s office was accepted. We even wanted to invite a witness, but could not manage to organize it. They could at least have pretended they wanted to hear us … “

The father of the killed soldier Arman Davtyan, in one of the court sessions, declared he believed in Chivchyan’s innocence. He asked Emil to announce the names of the guilty ones in his son’s death:

“He said, ‘boy, we know that you did not do it, you are innocent, at least tell us who has done so that we can do something’. But I did not know who did it, what would I say? “

The trial phase lasted only a few months. It is noteworthy that the last sessions were not held in the court: the prosecutor read his accusatory speech on some distance from the scene of the murder, and the verdict was read at the officer’s home.

Emil Chivchyan and the other defendant Arman Hovsepyan were sentenced to life imprisonment. A few days later, the investigative body destroyed the evidence that went through the case, and the scene of the incident was demolished.

“Aghvan Hovsepyan came and said, find out who did it, I will justify you.”

To date, Emil states that his conviction was not a result of an error, but a directive.

“It was a way of hiding the real culprit. They were specifically instructed from above. Well, the Military Prosecutor’s Office has always played the role of human meat grinder. At the time, when the prosecutor was Gagik Jhangiryan, he had definitely played that role. No age, no psychological state were taken into account… nothing. “

“I have no demand from anyone, just — justice. I’m sure it will come, but … it is being delayed too much.”

Today Emil continues to fight for his share of justice. Months ago, he reported a crime, in which he presented the fact of his torture by investigators years ago. 5 days ago Chivchyan was recognized as a victim.

Several days ago, Chivchyan took advantage of the RA Law on Making Amendments and Addenda to the Penitentiary Code of the Republic of Armenia and applied for the passage of the sentence from the closed penitentiary regime to a semi-closed one. There is still no answer yet but he waits with hope. The convict has been married during the years of imprisonment. He mentions that, although it will not be possible to returned the lost years, at least he will reach justice.

“I have no demand from anyone, just — justice. I’m sure it will come, but … it is being delayed too much.”

Roza Vardanyan

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