“I have nothing to do with the incident, otherwise I wouldn’t go and sleep 20 meters away from the corpse.”

Artur Mkrtumyan, a 46-year-old convict, has been talking about the case against him for four years now, but all his appeals remain unanswered. Mkrtumyan claims that he did not take part in the crime. He shows us 50-page documents and says indignantly:

“This is all the paperwork they made on me, it’s not even a single volume, but because of these 50 pages I will be imprisoned for 14 years.”

Although the incident took place in 2015, Arthur still does not remember the details of the incident well. He only remembers that it was September 18, and, after work, he drank a few glasses at his friend’s place, then went home, but after going about 100 meters, he stopped the car:

“I stopped the car, turned on some music and sat there. There was not even a house within a radius of 100 meters, so I thought I was not disturbing anyone. I opened my eyes when I was being beaten in my car, I was so disengaged that nothing is impressed in my mind. At that moment, I only saw the face of Derenik Papyan, who was dying, that alone is imprinted in my memory,” the convict tells Forrights.

Arthur found out about the incident only in the police department, where he was taken hours later. According to the accusation, at around 22:00 on the road of the Movses village of Tavush region, Mkrtumyan shot from a hunting rifle in the neck of Derenik Papyan, a resident of the same village, who died from gunshot wounds.

Papyan was the RA Ministry of Defense military commissar of Shamshadin, Tavush region.

Mkrtumyan did not accept the accusation from the very beginning; he regularly mentioned that he had nothing to do with the incident, otherwise he would not have gone and lay down and sleep 20 meters away from the body.

“Two of the witnesses say that after killing the man, I walked twice to the end of the village, threatened two of the neighbors and came back. Well, did I not understand that if no one has seen me, what’s the point of going, threatening, and then coming back and sleeping a few meters away from the corpse so that they could find me shortly?” asks the convict.

The examination did not even show that Papyan had died from a shot fired from the weapon belonging to Mkrtumyan. Arthur has a reason to be surprised here too. On the day of the incident, his weapon was in his house, but, according to the police, it was found in Arthur’s car. It is also noteworthy that Mkrtumyan’s fingerprints were not found on the weapon.

“A few days after the incident, I learned that the window of the room in my house where the weapon was located was broken. I informed the investigators, told them to go, to investigate, there were traces of blood too, examine it, they said it has nothing to do with the case. Well, what has anything to do with the case; only the thing you invented?” he gets indignant.

According to Arthur, the witnesses gave contradictory testimonies both during the preliminary investigation and during the trial, but the investigative bodies again ignored that circumstance.

“During the witness confrontation, I asked one of the witnesses, ‘Have you seen me or not? Have you seen my face?’ He said no. I asked, how then you recognized it was I? ‘Um…, let’s just say… it seems—from you voice, perhaps’.”

As a result of the one-year trial, Artur Mkrtumyan was sentenced to 11 years in prison, which was challenged in the Court of Appeal. Here his sentence was toughened, a new article was applied, and the final sentence became 14 years in prison.

Arthur has been deprived of the right to appeal the lawsuit against him

Arthur is not allowed to apply to the Court of Cassation, but not through his own fault.

Today, he filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights Mkrtumyan v. The Republic of Armenia. The reason is that Arthur has been deprived of the right to appeal the court decision, as the Public Defender Garegin Margaryan, involved in the case, has missed the deadline for appealing.

According to the convict, he did not have the opportunity to hire a private lawyer due to financial problems, so he applied to the Public Defender’s Office. He even wanted to reimburse the travel expenses of the lawyer’s visits so that he would “come to the institution frequently”, but Margaryan refused, saying that they were not allowed to take money, but he would do his best.

“What was “his best”? We had 17 days to appeal, I kept telling him, “Margaryan, look, let’s not be late, and he was reassuring me. Then the day came, and it turned out that we were 40 hours late,” the convict tells agitatedly.

“It turns out that, due to the state’s fault, I have been unjustifiably deprived of the right to appeal the judicial act against me. The responsibility for the quality of the service provided by that lawyer falls on the state, and as a result of his negligence or shortcomings, I have been deprived of the opportunity to carry out his defense effectively.”

In a conversation with Forrights, the Public Defender clarified that he received the decision of the Court of Appeal late, due to which he applied late to the Court of Cassation.

“Because I did not mention the word ‘motion’ in my complaint, the Court of Cassation decided not to accept the case. This is the same answer that many lawyers get from that court. They just need some excuse to reject the investigation of the complaint,” said lawyer Margaryan.

Addressing the European Court of Human Rights, convict Mkrtumyan stressed that the right to a fair trial, which is also related to the right of accessibility of a court, has not been ensured for him.

Roza Vardanyan

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