Saturday, 25 November

"Where are the guns?" Prosecution in Jirayr Seflyan Trial Comes Up Short



When it comes to amassing evidence in the ongoing Jirayr Sefilyan trial in Yerevan, the government has come up with everything except the most important – the fable “smoking gun” – i.e. the weapons.

Sefilyan and the six other defendants have been charged with illegally purchasing arms, ostensibly to be used to seize government buildings. The charges were brought last year, and many believe the entire case is politically motivated; that the government merely wants to silence this vocal group of political opponents of the regime.

At today’s trial session, defense attorney Tigran Hayrapetyan declared that none of the physical evidence – DVDs, brochures, Sefilyan’s writings, etc. – proves any culpability on the part of his clients.

“What’s the connection between these items and the charges?” Hayrapetyan asked the court, stressing that the prosecution is engaged in a political witch hunt against the Founding Parliament, an organization highly critical of the regime in power.

In response, State Prosecutor Yenokyan said that Hayrapetyan’s outburst resembles a closing argument, and asked the attorney to refrain from making “political statements”.

Judge Tatevik Grigoryan, however, said that she is not prepared to limit the rights of the defense.

Defendant Nerses Poghosyan interrupted Yenokyan, who was reading out the list of evidence, by asking, “So where are the weapons?”

The prosecution was dealt another blow to its case when one of its eyewitnesses, contract soldier Hovhannes Minasyan, took the stand and said that he knew Jirayr Sefilyan as hero of Artsakh, and that he attended rallies organized by the Founding Parliament, but that no unruly incidents every took place.

Prosecutor Yenokyan said that there were inconsistencies in what Minasyan was now testifying to and his original testimony.

Minasyan countered by saying that he never wrote the transcript of his original testimony even though he signed it. Attorney Hayrapetyan demanded that the court look into the matter. Judge Grigoryan said the court would investigate any allegation of fabricated testimony if it found anything awry.  

When the judge declared his testimony done, Minasyan said, “Thank you, but it’s very wrong to prosecute these guys.”

P.S. For several months, court bailiffs have failed to check the identity papers of journalists and others attending the trial which began in May of this year.


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