Karen Hovhannisyan, a detainee in Nubarashen penitentiary, went on a hunger strike today. He has one demand: to stop the inhuman treatment of him, to punish his executioners, the law enforcement officers who made him disabled by torturing him two years ago, those who do everything possible to prevent the fact of torture from being revealed.
Let us remind that Karen Hovhannisyan, a former employee of the “Panther” security service, has been in custody for about three years. He is being tried for the August 30, 2018 murder of 28-year-old Marine Danielyan in one of the houses on Araratyan Street in Yerevan. But he did not admit his guilt. He was beaten by Shengavit police officers three years ago with the aim of extorting a confession. The torture continued in Nubarshen penitentiary, where he went on a long hunger strike. The penitentiary officers beat and tortured him, after which Karen Hovhannisyan acquired a second-degree disability.
Human rights activist Zhanna Aleksanyan and lawyer Sargis Khachatryan held a joint press conference on August 5, during which it was announced that detainee Karen Hovhannisyan had been tortured by police and then by penitentiary staff.
And only after this outcry, the Special Investigation Service initiated a criminal case on the fact of torturing Karen Hovhannisyan in September (ROA Criminal Code, Article 309.1).
Why did the case reach the Special Investigation Service so late, when in December of last year, the detainee gave a detailed testimony about the torture to the Investigation Department of the Kentron administrative district? The investigator was obliged to separate the materials in that part and send them to the SIS. This issue was recently raised before the Prosecutor’s Office by the lawyer of Journalists for Human Rights NGO Monica Margaryan.
She filed a complaint, demanding that the supervising prosecutor and investigator be held accountable for inaction.
“The investigator did not resolve the issue of initiating a criminal case for torture, and the prosecutor displayed inaction. The case was initiated only after Zhanna Aleksanyan’s press conference. They made a very serious mistake. The torture took place in March 2019. Now, two years after the incident, a case has been filed. Moreover, during this month, I do not notice the urgency of the case, the desire to act quickly,” said the lawyer.
She also told Forrights.am that another case about Karen Hovhannisyan is being investigated by the Kentron investigation committee. He complained that he had not been provided with proper medical care. In that case initiated in February (ROA Criminal Code, Article 130), a forensic medical commission examination was appointed, which has not taken place so far. “By delaying the examination, everything is being done to eliminate the traces of torture as much as possible. The investigator told me orally that the examination was not being carried out because the penitentiary institution refused to take Karen Hovhannisyan to the hospital for examination, as if the detainee was in such a condition that he could not be taken to the hospital. This is unbelievable; in that case, how was he taken to court for the murder case?” the lawyer asks.
Recently, experts visited Karen Hovhannisyan. “They went to him and said, ‘Well, you refuse to go to the hospital.’ Karen said he did not refuse. Experts examined him on the spot without tools, without equipment. If there was a need to examine Karen Hovhannisyan in the hospital, it should have been done with appropriate technical means.”
Karen Hovhannisyan is disappointed. The last straw that drove him to go to hunger strike was the fact that investigators were trying to present that he allegedly refused to undergo examinations.
Karen’s wife, Arevik Shakhbaryan, complained to the Prosecutor General and the Minister of Justice.
She mentioned in a telephone conversation with us. “The prosecutor’s office is trying to show that Karen does not have a health problem, that he pretends to be ill. My husband is dying before my eyes, his condition is getting worse day by day. His teeth fall out one by one. Seeing the tongue alone is enough to understand that a person is decaying from within. I don’t go to see him either, because he can’t remain in the wheelchair for at least half an hour to see his children,” says Arevik. She constantly asks various officials to take her husband for treatment, as the treatment he receives in the penitentiary institution does not work.
Arevik Shakhbaryan is a mother of four children. Karen Hovhannisyan was the only breadwinner for his 4 children. Yesterday, Arevik spoke to Karen yesterday and asked him not to go on hunger strike. In vain.