Zaruhi Mejlumyan

"Court's Decision Might Have Caused Laughter, If Weren't Talking About Someone's Freedom"

Kotayk District Court of First Instance Judge Vaghinak Mkrtchyan yesterday announced the final part of his decision on attorney Marie Laure Dosé's motion to change the measure of restraint applied to her client Vardan Petrosyan (who is currently in pre-trial detention): the judge refused to change the measure of restraint and release Petrosyan. 

"The court's decision might have caused laughter, if we weren't talking about someone's freedom," said Dosé during a meeting with journalists, mentioning the two grounds the court cited for keeping Petrosyan in detention: his possible escape from Armenia and possibly putting pressure on witnesses. 

Responding to a question from Hetq whether these claims are clarified and substantiated, Dosé said: "No, the court did not present such evidence, as to what threat of escape it is referring to or what are the grounds to suspect that he might put pressure on the witnesses. That is to say, the decision is not sufficiently justified. What escape could we possibly speak of, when Vardan Petrosyan handed over his two passports of his own [free] will to the investigation?"

"For such a decision Armenia will be condemned by the European Court of Human Rights: whether it be 5–6 years later, but Armenia will definitely have a 'Vardan Petrosyan vs. the Republic of Armenia' winning case. I say this so confidently because last year France was sentenced because of a similar decision. The court again had not sufficiently justified why an individual must remain behind bars. But compared to the French decision, yesterday's decision is a masterpiece," she said. 

Petrosyan's other attorney, Nikolai Baghdasaryan, in turn, recalled that 4 days after the incident, on October 24, the police had sent a writ, instructing to block all roads open to Vardan Petrosyan. Baghdasaryan also mentioned that apart from the victims and Vardan Petrosyan, there are no witnesses to the car accident. "It's absurd to think that Vardan Petrosyan might put pressure on the witnesses," he said. 

Marie Laure Dosé once again argued that the decision to keep her client in pre-trial detention is unlawful, and there is an "incomprehensible persecution against him… justice needs decency. I don't know what they are investigating in court today, but they are definitely not investigating a car accident," she said. 

Baghdasaryan said that the materials in the case of Petrosyan's arrest are ready and will soon be sent to the European Court of Human Rights. 

Dosé said that she visited her client in Nubarashen Penitentiary. "I saw that the detention conditions are deplorable — not only for Petrosyan, but also for everyone."