Monday, 20 November

Yerevan's Sasna Dzrer Trial; Defense Attorneys Decry Arbitrary Searches



Today’s court session in the ongoing trial of the Sasna Dzrer defendants again was the scene of heated debate between defense attorneys and court bailiffs over the issue of what could be brought into the court.

Some attorneys remained outside, since detectors had allegedly found metal items on their person and the attorneys said they were carrying no such items in their bags.

One of the attorneys, Lousineh Sahakyan told Hetq that her bag had been flagged because it set off an alarm.

“What are you looking for?” Sahakyan asked one of the examiners. The response was they were looking for sharp objects.

“I don’t have any,” the attorney replied.

“So why did the alarm go off?” the examiner asked.

“I don’t know. Check your machine,” Sahakyan tersely replied.

The attorney said the examiners didn’t even have a list of proscribed items. They wrote a report saying that the attorney refused to have her belongings examined.

Sahakyan denied the charge, saying she had been subjected to a check. In fact, her bag was empty.

There are no body scan machines at the court, leading many to argue that the bailiffs are arbitrarily creating problems for some wishing to enter the courtroom.

Another defense attorney, Moushegh Shoushanyan, has only entered the court for two of the trial sessions since the case began three months ago.

Shoushanyan has refused to have his bag examined. He claims that the examination process hinders his professional work and border on a crime.

“Thus, it’s not only a violation of our rights, but those of our clients, given that they have declared that we should conduct their defense, and not public defenders,” Shoushanyan said.

(The court has assigned public defenders to replace those attorneys who have been barred from the courtroom for not following court procedure.)

The attorney says that the presence of public defenders in the courtroom, contrary to the wishes of the defendants, violates the law and the attorney ethical norms.

Defense attorney Arayik Papikyan, who was allowed to enter the court even though his bag set off the metal detector, left the courtroom, declaring that his colleagues were being discriminated against.

“My colleagues Lousineh Sahakyan and Moushegh Shoushanyan were barred from the court even though the circumstances were the same. The court is helping to hinder the professional work of attorneys. Thus, I declare, that I will not participate in today’s trial session,” Papikyan wrote in his protest to the court.

Several of the defense attorneys say they are on the verge of boycotting the trial to voice their opposition to the pre-trial searches.

The next court date is September 13.


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