As the Institute’s Laboratory Director Misak Balayan puts it, “We had 4,000 workers at one time, and now we’re down to 15. Instead of spurring science and encouraging people in the field, we are taking them to court and to jail.”
The Institute was founded in 1972.
Balayan is referring to the fact that Institute Director Samvel Khachatryan and eight staffers have been jailed since 2010, after being found guilty of illegally manufacturing and selling the drug amphetamine.
Khachatryan was sentenced to 12 years.
All nine have filed an appeal, arguing that the pre-trial examination and the trial itself were riddled with inaccuracies and infractions.
Two forensic examinations of pills found at the Institute came up with contradictory conclusions. One found traces of amphetamine, the other didn’t.
Thus, attorneys for the accused had demanded that a new round of tests be conducted by the Ministry of Health’s
State Prosecutor Militonyan however opposed the motion on the grounds that two such tests had already been conducted.
In court, Samvel Khachatryan claimed that their families had been threatened and that one of the accused had been subject to electroshock.
Khachatryan argued that the case against them had been solely based on the testimony of dubious eye-witnesses.
“One is deaf, and the other is a village shepherd with a fourth grade education. Nevertheless, he was somehow able to string together a few sentences and claim that when he passed by the institute he found pails full of tablets and that he recognized them as amphetamines.”
The trial continues on December 19.