Convicted brothers end 24-day-long hunger strike. “They have to justify them: there is no other way”

345

Arman and Vagharshak Khostikyan, who have been on hunger strike for 24 days, stopped their hunger strike five days ago when they received information that the case they had filed had been sent to the Avan Court of General Jurisdiction of Yerevan. The long-awaited sitting is scheduled for June 4.

“Our demand has been partially fulfilled. The main demand to end the hunger strike was the review of the boys’ case, but, at this moment, the complaint against the investigator was satisfied. If the court is fair, it will listen to all parties involved and consider the case in detail, it will find out that the investigator has carried out illegal actions and a one-sided investigation. It did so realizing that their colleagues, a former investigator, prosecutors and a judge, had made illegal decisions and covered up the case,” Arman Khostikyan’s wife told Forrights.

It should be reminded that the Khostikyan brothers went on a hunger strike and demanded a review of their criminal case and a fair trial. According to them, the investigator investigating the case, not receiving the required bribe, falsified the investigation results, and threatened the witnesses.

“Both of them were sentenced to 11 to 12 years in prison for stealing a car. They didn’t even take into account that each of them has two minor children. It’s a fabricated case. The investigator extorted testimony from the witnesses by threatening them․ He closed the door and said, “None of you will go home if you do not sign this testimony.” A torture against witnesses took place. The investigator tried to persuade the witnesses to withdraw or change the testimony they gave,” Teline Mkrtumyan, the mother of the Khostikyan brothers, whose case will be investigated along with her sons’ cases, told Forrights.

The Prosecutor’s Office accepted the Khostikyans’ complaint that the investigator was inactive and did not conduct a proper investigation within the framework of the criminal case. However, the boys state that if the court does not conduct a fair trial this time and makes an illegal decision again, they will go on hunger strike again.

“The case must be sent for a new examination. They have to justify them; there is no other option. “

After the end of the hunger strike, the boys were transferred from “Vanadzor” penitentiary institution to “Nubarashen”, where they were immediately isolated. This circumstance infuriated their family members. According to Arman Khostikyan’s wife, if the brothers were in the cell for the hunger strikers and so the visits were forbidden, then why were they isolated after being transferred?

“They are kept on the basement floor of the institution, it is an extremely wet cell, in a deplorable condition. We call the Human Rights Defender’s hotline and they say you have to write an application. I got angry: if we have to write an application, what is the meaning of that hotline?” Arman’s wife says indignantly.

In a conversation with Forrights, Nona Navikyan, head of the Public Information Department of the Penitentiary Service, clarified that every detainee or convict is transferred to the quarantine department for up to seven days when admitted to the institution.

“In the quarantine department, the convicts are in at least the same conditions as when serving their sentences. In seven days, the convicts will be transferred to appropriate cells,” Navikyan said.

The Khostikyan brothers have taken such an extreme step not only because of their criminal case, but also because of the refusal to apply for parole.

Arman Babajanyan, a member of the National Assembly, who met with them, told Forrights that he was taking certain steps in the case of the brothers.

“I am going to discuss the criminal case with the Prosecutor General. Before that, I have asked for information about the case, in order to understand what opportunities and windows we have, with which I will be able to help them with the tools at my disposal,” the MP noted, without mentioning any other details at the moment.

Roza Vardanyan