46-year-old detainee Armen Simonyan is one of the many prisoners who, having weak health from the start, cannot survive in the unbearable conditions created for patients in Armenian detention centers, lack of medical aid and medical care, and die without seeing freedom.
Armen, who was accused of selling drugs, did not even reach his own verdict. He had cirrhosis of the liver, lung problems, and other concomitant diseases, which were aggravated in prison conditions. Last year, Armen Simonyan had a heart attack in the detention center, which was the beginning of the end. They did not tell the family what particular disease the detainee died of. They are waiting for the results of the forensic examination. Armen’s sister, Margarita Vardanyan, was never allowed to see her dying brother.
In the last months, she was in a dispute and fight with the workers of the detention center, the doctors of the Convicts Hospital, the workers of the Armavir penitentiary, the management of the Penitentiary Medicine Center, the staff of civil hospitals, and the judge in her brother’s case.
“Before he had a stroke, he was taken from the Armavir penitentiary to Etchmiatsin hospital. They told me that Armen was very well, he had no problem, his liver was in normal condition. But they did not give the clinical report. They have been doing it since yesterday. There were saying tomorrow, the next day, and the next day… I reached Etchmiatsin every two days from Yerevan, and they never gave me the epicrisis. Within a week, Armen got worse. How, if he was 100 percent healthy?”
This time, Armen Simonyan was taken to Erebuni hospital, where a blood infection was diagnosed. “We got paniced; we managed to get Armen taken to the Convicts’ Hospital this year. Dr. Sharafyan said ‘Armen, dear, you are very well’. He had a stroke while taking shower in the hospital bathroom. They took him to Erebuni hospital. Before that, he constantly was complaining about the pain in his arm, but Sharafyan told him that he was very well, and didn’t give him any medicine,” recalls Margarita Vardanyan, who buried her brother a day ago.
In Erebuni hospital, Armen Simonyan could neither eat nor speak. “He didn’t speak until the end, he was bedridden, in diapers, one side weakened. We appealed to the judge to make an “act”, that is, to recognize his health condition as incompatible with detention. The man is already dead, but they are still collecting the “act” papers.”
Simonyan’s relatives ask the judge to at least take him home. According to Margarita, the judge’s answer was as follows: “What difference does it make: he is lying unconscious, the state is paying for him, is’n it the same where he is lyung? This way, they will not pay for him.” “I don’t know what I experienced at that moment. How can a judge say such a thing?” Margarita says.
During the last court session, Armen Simonyan’s defense attorney Armen Hayrapetyan petitioned Judge Vahagn Melikyan to schedule a hearing to examine the motion to release Armen Simonyan from detention. However, the judge answers that he has to go on vacation. “Will my brother live long enough for you to go on vacation?” Margarita asks Judge Melkonyan.
Later, he constantly calls the assistant of judge, asking him to convene an emergency session, because his brother’s condition is terrible: he regularly loses consciousness. But the judge’s assistant replies that he cannot help in any way. And when the sister warns that she will apply to the Ombudsman, will report that her brother is being tortured, the judge’s assistant replied: “Do whatever you want, apply to whomever you want.”
On September 19, Armen Simonyan’s condition deteriorated sharply. He was transferred by ambulance from the Convicts’ Hospital first to Armenia Medical Center, then to Mikaelyan Institute of Surgery, but these two medical institutions refused to accept the sick detainee.
“After turning on the saturation device, the ambulance drove him to the Massiv hospital. They accepted him on the condition that they had to bring the decision of the head of the Convicts’ Hospital by the morning that he should be kept in the hospital. The doctors felt that they should have kept him, but they did not want to take risk of sole responsibility. Then, they said that he was very well, he was already eating. At night, we found out that the saturation had dropped, they took him to Erebuni, where my brother died. No one allowed us to see him,” said the deceased’s sister with tears in her eyes.
Armen Simonyan’s defense attorney Armen Hayrapetyan did not want to talk to Forrights.am, saying that he was busy. To our question, whether he does not think that the cause of Armen’s death was the indifferent attitude of doctors and officials, he answered that he does not have such data and, to find out the cause of death, we needed to wait for the expert’s conclusion.
Naira Babayan, deputy director of the Penitentiary Medicine Center, assures that everything possible has been done for Armen Simonyan. “This is the case that I cannot give you any other information at this moment, because a criminal case will be initiated, and whatever information I would give you now, it will turn out that, in addition to violating the confidentiality of medical data, I would also be taking over the function of pre-investigation bodies. I can state that both our hospital and civil hospitals did everything possible and impossible, but I cannot tell you what exactly the patient died of,” Naira Babayan said in a conversation with Forrights.am.
P.S. When her brother was dying, Margarita went to the Convicts’ Hospital after another paper: she was taking the desired permission from the head of the hospital to send her brother to a civil hospital. She took the paper to Erebuni Medical Center and accidentally saw her brother for the last time in the yard of the hospital, when his body was being taken to the morgue on a stretcher.