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26.06.2018 | freedom of speech

“I am convinced, there will be no disclosure:” Yerevan new Chief of Police on Slapping a Journalist

“I am convinced, there will be no disclosure:” Yerevan new Chief of Police on Slapping a Journalist
“I insist that Yerevan`s newly appointed Chief of Police Artak Poghosyan not only insulted me, but also oversaw a whole package of crimes, which took place at Kentron police station when he was the Chief of Police of the Kentron district of Yerevan,” said photojournalist Ani Gevorgyan during her conversation with Forrights.am today, adding that not only she continues to insist on the fact of abuse towards her in the police station, but also she has been taking steps to prove the case of abuse against her and also hinderance of journalists’ work by police.

Let us note that the case is in the European Court and the question-and-answer phase with the government will soon start. On February 12, 2014, clashes had occurred between the Armenian National Congress (ANC) young activists who were informing the public about the upcoming rally on March 1, and the ruling at the time Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) members who were trying to hinder the young activists’ action. After the incident, the police detained the opposition youth among them-- the journalist of the Fourth Self-Government newspaper Ani Gevorgyan and the Ilur.am website operator Sargis Gevorgyan.

“When Artak Poghosyan, whom I did not know at the time, entered the police station, I was talking on the phone and telling my newspaper what illegal actions were being taken against us,” said Ani, continuing: “The police chief hit me at the face, snatched my phone, shouted, who gave a telephone to me, threw it on the table, ordered to confiscate my phone and left the room. I was, naturally, shocked and started to demand to make a record on what just happened.”

No policemen made a record on what happened with Ani, and later Ani learnd that the one who slapped her was the Chief of the Police. Besides, before the incident, they took the camera from the journalist and declared that there was never a memory card in the camera, although the journalist has been recording the police violence with that same camera. “They were looking right into your eyes and saying it was our imagination, nothing like that ever occurred.”

The videotapes of the police building “disappeared” too. Based on Ani Gevorgyan`s report, the RA Special Investigation Service initiated a criminal case under Article 164, Part 2 of the RA Criminal Code (obstructing journalists legal professional work by an official abusing his/her powers) and under Article 309, Part 2 (surpassing official powers accompanied with violence, usage of arms or special means).

The criminal case, however, was dropped, as many other cases of violence against journalists and obstruction of journalistic activities in Armenia. “During the pre-trial investigation, the Kentron Police Chief, as well as the policemen denied even the fact that Artak Poghosyan had entered that room. Not only did he [Chied of Police] give false testimony, but also forced his subordinates to give false testimonies,” the reporter said, considering it important that hercomplaint will be a precedent in the ECHR, since up to now no case of violence against journalists professional activities has been brought from Armenia to the ECHR.

The newly appointed Yerevan Police Chief Artak Poghosyan, answering the question of Forrights.am on how he can hold the office in new Armenia [after the Velvet Revolution] when Ani Gevorgyan insists that he has slapped her, replied: “And I insist that there was no such an incident.”

We reminded the Chief of Police that the case is now in the ECHR, asking if the ECHR makes a decision on the case and sends it back to investigate again, does he think that there will not be a disclosure. “I am convinced that there will not be any disclosure because all the information does not correspond to reality," Poghosyan stated.

There is already distrust regarding the police becaus, if it cannot bring to light an incident of a slap, how will it be able to solve the assassinations and crimes of March 1 if the police continues to conceal its crimes? “The police has enough will to do it, has enough opportunities and resources and is ready to respond to any offenses,” the newly appointed Chief of Police said.

Artak Poghosyan`s appointment has also caused bewilderment among human rights defenders. “As I gather, the reputation of a violator, especially confirmed by the ECHR, is mandatory for becoming Yerevan Police Chief,” said human rights activist Zhanna Alexanyan in her Facebook page. “If you remember, Ashot Karapetyan was known as the torturer of Grisha Virabyan and this was confirmed by the ECHR ruling. And the newly appointed Artak Poghosyan has attracted attention when he was the Chief of Police of the Kentron district. He had slapped photojournalist Ani Gevorgyan, who was taken to the Kentron station. The impression is that the police does not want to abandon the reputation of violator and this tradition is going to be preserved. This is a shameful appointment.”

Marine Kharatyan
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