Tsolak Poghosyan, now in his thirteenth year behind bars in Armenia, recently sent a letter to Investigative Journalists NGO President Edik Baghdasaryan, asking for assistance in getting his criminal case reviewed.
Poghosyan is one of 14 former Armenian soldiers sentenced to life imprisonment. Ever since being convicted, Poghosyan has maintained his innocence, demanding a review of his sentence.
Currently, there are 99 individuals serving life sentences in Armenia.
Hetq has read the case materials on file in the court archives regarding Poghosyan’s trial in which he was found guilty of murdering his army buddy Karen Petrosyan. Hetq also interviewed Poghosyan at the Noubarashen Penitentiary.
Three other soldiers were sentenced in the murder case. Manvel Boyadjyan and Souren Petrosyan received 6.5 year sentences and Sayat Arshakyan, five years, for assisting Poghosyan.
Poghosyan’s conviction, in part, was based on the testimony of Arshakyan. But Arshakyan changed his story some six or seven times.
Poghosyan confessed to the crime under duress and after being beaten while in the custody of the military police for five days. Poghosyan testified in court that he was maltreated, but his claims were disregarded.
The case material includes statements of the soldiers regarding being beaten while in custody.
A state inspector ordered that the soldiers undergo medical tests to verify their claims of maltreatment, but Hetq found no exam results in the four volumes of case materials.
Hetq visited Anahit Matosyan, Poghosyan’s caretaker and aunt. She said that Poghosyan’s parents died in the 1988 Spitak earthquake when he was just 2.5 years-old. Ms. Matosyan said that one of her three children also perished in the earthquake.
“My girl was buried under the rubble. I said that I would raise Tsolak. They were taking the children to orphanages at the time. But I raised them in a tomik (trailer hut). We are still living in a tomik,” Matosyan told Hetq.
The family that raised Poghosyan doesn’t even know what happened to the boy.
When Matosyan’s other son was discharged from the army and returned to Spitak, he went to see Tsolak at the army base.
“He found out that Tsolak had been sentenced to life. We paid him a visit in prison. They found a defenseless boy and placed the blame on him,” says Matosyan.
Photo: Anahit Matosyan, Tsolak Poghosyan