In the case of 45-year-old Artur Mkrtchyan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 5 co-servicemen almost 25 years ago, there are still many dark points, questions, the answers to which neither the prosecutor nor the investigators gave.
Although he pleaded guilty and repented, his verdict is one of the most problematic judicial acts passed in the Republic of Armenia.
In one of the 2020 interviews, Arthur Mkrtchyan said that he had never been able to express the pain and suffering that he had to endure every day for 24 years, but he had just gritted his teeth, and the most important task for him has been not to allow “the man inside of me be killed.”
Today, Arthur, who has spent his whole life in prison, tries to “move forward” and fights for early release.
By the decision of the Court of General Jurisdiction of Armavir the motion of Armavir penitentiary to release Arthur Mkrtchyan from parole was rejected on May 22. His lawyer Monica Margaryan filed an appeal against the decision of the first instance.
A person serving a sentence of imprisonment under Article 76 of the RA Criminal Code may be released on parole by the court after serving the minimum term of the sentence, if the court, after considering the reports of the penitentiary service, probation service or disciplinary battalion commander comes to the conclusion that the convict does not need to serve the rest of the sentence to be corrected if he or she:
ՙՙ 1) Demonstrated appropriate behavior while serving the sentence; and
2) the probability of the convict committing a new crime is low”.
During the assessment of appropriate conduct, the presence of incentives, disciplinary action, participation in educational programs, sporting or cultural events or self-formed associations of convicts are taken into account, as well as whether or not they have worked for at least three months during the sentence, the age of the convict, the nature of the crime, the presence of recidivism, willingness of the convict to compensate for the damage caused, etc.
But the Armavir Court of General Jurisdiction, according to Mkrtchyan’s lawyer Monica Margaryan, made an unreasonable decision. ՙՙThe court, recording the facts brought, made the wrong findings: they do not correspond to the facts obtained in the case.
Thus, A. Mrtchyan was 19 years old at the time of committing the crime, now he is 45 years old, there is no recurrence, he regrets what he did, he compensated the damage caused by 50%, and he is committed to compensate the rest. He does not accept the criminal subculture, the fines he received have been repaid. His last disciplinary penalty he received nine years ago. In Nubarashen penitentiary he took part in a chess and checkers tournament, completed cooking classes, wanted to be involved in educational programs, but his application was rejected because there were many who were willing to do the same.
In 2021, together with other convicts, he created a self-made sports association, participated in information technology and legal courses, movie viewings, was involved in a self-made cultural association, worked in handicrafts, made donations and handed them over to the “Support to Convicts” Foundation, used the library, has no addictions, etc.,” says the lawyer.
The court based its conclusions on the conflicting data of the probation service. According to the probation report, Mkrtchyan showed positive behavior, but the probability of the convict committing a new crime is high.
“If in determining the degree of likelihood of a new crime by a convict we are guided only by the severity of the act committed, then the institution of early release of a person convicted of a particularly serious crime should not exist,” writes the lawyer in her complaint on the controversial report of the probation service.
She considers that the court should evaluate all the available information and facts objectively, evaluate them in their combination, and not take a selective approach, choosing the rare facts that can be interpreted in a bad light to the detriment of the convict.
- Mkrtchyan committed a crime at a young age, his health condition, his current attitude towards the crime, criminal subculture, lack of recidivism, involvement in educational and sports programs – participation, signing a commission contract, stable connection with the outside world, library use, ansence of bad inclinations and addictions, compensating more than half of the damage caused need to be taken into consideration.
Evaluating all this information and the facts in combination with the disciplinary penalties received before 2013 and the positions of the victims, it should be stated that the results of the Mkrtchyan’s discipline and implementation of the correctional program during the serving of the sentence are high. The analysis shows that he is on the path of correction, i.e., the degree of probability of Mkrtchyan to exhibit law-abiding behavior is sufficient both in terms of public safety and his reintegration into society, and the goals of the sentence may be finally achieved while the defendant is being in freedom under appropriate supervision:
Arthur Mkrtchyan’s lawyer also informed that prosecutor Arayik Brutyan had shown inadmissible behavior in court. When the fact of Arthur Mkrtchyan’s participation in sports events was discussed, he asked the convict a rude, incompatible with professional ethics question: “What is this, did you take part in an event for each dead soldier?”
In response, Arthur Mkrtchyan responded: “Nothing is worth a soldier’s life. You should not have said that, I’m ashamed for you.”
Arthur Mkrtchyan was arrested at the age of 19. Today he is 47 years old.
By the way, the legal successors of the victims are not against the early release of the defendant: they do not have any demands towards the A. Mkrtchyan.