On March 30, police released a heartbreaking video showing 28-year-old Tigran Karapetyan pouring a torrent of curses on Malatya police officers, and they bravely tried to bring the drunken young man to justice. They rudgingly brought him to the police station and there receive a large portion of curses from him.
“In the car, he again cursed and hit the police officers, one of whom received an eye injury, but despite his bleeding wound, he continued to perform his duties diligently,” the video reads. In fact, it was the response of law enforcement to Forrights.am’s March 28 publication, in which we described the violence, torture and humiliation that Tigran Karapetyan was subjected to after the night of March 27 when he was approached by police near the Yerevan-City supermarket.
Tigran Karapetyan’s brother, Gevorg Karapetyan, told us that his brother had gone out with his friend to Yerevan-City supermarket on Ohanov street for shopping. The police stopped him. An argument broke out, which turned into a fight. They beat and humiliated Tigran Karapetyan and took him to the Malatya police station. They poured alcohol on him, spat on his face and in his mouth, took him to the toilet, humiliated him, and severely beat him.
The police told us that Tigran Karapetyan has been drunk, cursed and hit the policeman. Tigran Karapetyan told his lawyer, Gurgen Hovhannisyan, that what happened at the police station had not been fully filmed. “They were slapping so much that I was cursing, and it was just my cursing that they filmed.” We made sure of that by watching the video released by the police. Only the episodes when Mr. Karapetyan swears at the police are shown.
Now Tigran Karapetyan has the status of a defendant and a victim at the same time. He is accused under the second part of Article 316 of the Criminal Code of Armenia, “The use of life-threatening violence against a government official”, and he is a victim under Article 309, “Torture”.
However, Tigran Karapetyan’s lawyer does not see any prospects. “The state will do everything possible to ensure that no one is tortured by the police,” he said. We asked Gurgen Hovhannisyan to comment on the video made by the police and spread throughout the media.
“There are complete videos, but these were edited pieces. This video does not include footages taken in front of the police department, in the car, the scene where the policeman put his knee on Tigran’s throat, pulled out the weapon two or three times: this part was not there. After the phone falls to the ground, the sounds of hitting are heard, but there is no picture. Three or four videos were taken by the phone, which were edited and pasted together, leaving only the parts where Tigran was cursing. The police did not present how the police beat and tortured Tigran Karapetyan,” he said. We asked the lawyer a few questions.
- Police deny the fact of violence, but have any injuries been reported?
- Yes, of course, he has passed all the examinations, all the injuries have been recorded. They say that Tigran hit his head against the walls of the police department. How come that his nose is not damaged, the forehead is in normal condition, but both eyes are bruised. We petitioned for the station cameras to be confiscated, but the investigator said, it seems they were not working. In other words, the cameras in the Malatya police station are not working, and everyone accepts it normally. If someone came and tried to harm the police, or killed someone on the ground floor, the police cameras would not take pictures, and everyone is aware of that.
- The footage shows that Tigran Karapetyan was not sober.
- If a sober man would be put in a car seat and people would seat on him, what would he do? If the person were sober, would he be able to move in that condition? The fact that my client was drunk is being exploited. If he used alcohol, let them check him, make a record, not beat him, humiliate him, abuse him.
- The blood under the policeman’s eyes was evident in the video. What would you say?
- According to Tigran, he does not remember how it happened, but says that [when being beaten] he made irregular movements in the car. However, Article 316 of the Criminal Code, violence against a representative of the government, according to the position expressed by the Court of Cassation, implies to those cases when the accused intends to use violence. But we have data and evidence that we are not talking about intent, but about sudden reaction. Attaching the video to the police page and writing below that the police had given an adequate response, simply confirms what Tigran had said: he had been subjected to torture.
Gurgen Hovhannisyan also said that there is no document stating that his client was drunk, and that there was no record of Tigran Karapetyan violating traffic rules during the state of emergency and being fined.
Tigran Karapetyan is under arrest. His wife and mother recently wrote a letter to the Prime Minister complaining about the inhumane treatment of the police, and said that they were not allowed to see Tigran.
“Tigran is in the Armavir penitentiary. His parents do not have a million and a half drams to pay the bail and take him home,” said Mushegh Karapetyan, Tigran Karapetyan’s cousin. “That video is a made-up video: if a person’s hands are tied and he is being beaten, what would that person do? He would shout, swear, won’t he?”