Vahagn Maroukyan, who’s been serving a life sentence in an Armenian prison since the age of 19, has been seeking early conditional release on medical grounds.
Maroukyan’s demand that he be transported to the court, despite his mobility problems, was never fulfilled.
Maroukyan, incarcerated for the past 24 years after being found guilty of the premeditated murder of a Vanadzor police chief, was to have been transferred to the Nubarashen penitentiary from the Artik penitentiary this morning, and then to the appeals court in Yerevan.
The convict says his confession was beaten out of him.
Instead of the Yerevan court hearing his appeal, an ad-hoc session was convened at the Artik prison. Maroukyan was hauled into the room on a chair.
While the prosecutor never showed, claiming he was overloaded with work, he did ask the court to deny Maroukyan’s appeal.
The court delayed proceedings until April 17, so that arrangements could be made to get Maroukyan to Yerevan.
Maroukyan is seeking to overturn a lower court’s decision that let stand a ruling by the department of corrections to deny him early conditional release based on his medical condition.
Maroukyan, who hasn’t been able to walk unassisted for the past few years, says his disability stems from years of living in a damp jail cell.
According to the country’s penal law, prisoners who fall ill while incarcerated are eligible for conditional release if their medical condition is such that cannot continue to serve their sentence normally.
Maroukyan, diagnosed with acute rheumatoid arthritis, is eligible for early release.
“They argue that my disease hasn’t gotten to the point that it has affected my organs. Thus, they are denying my release,” Maroukyan told this reporter.
Maroukyan has been denied early release four times already.
He says the last denial was this past September.
“They told me that while I have a clean prison record, with no points against me, they haven’t received orders from above to release me,” Maroukyan says.
He appealed this latest denial, but a lower court ruled against him.
Maroukyan was recently transferred from the Convicts Hospital to the Artik penitentiary.
He then went on hunger strike, demanding to be returned to the hospital and be provided adequate medical treatment.