Is media responsible for the reader’s opinion; the verdict will be announced on March 7


On February 24 the trial on the case "Arthur Grigoryan against the "Hraparak" newspaper" came to an end. On March 7 the judge of the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash districts, G. Khandanyan will announce the verdict.

The judgment on this case may become a precedent. This is the first case in Armenia when an action is brought against the media for publishing the comments of the newspaper's readers.

To remind the attorney Arthur Grigoryan took offence from the opinions of the readers written under the article "Citizens as victims of unconscientiously attorneys" which was put on the web-site of the "Hraparak" newspaper in August. The attorney demands AMD 18 million from the newspaper for insulting his honor and dignity. According to the case each of the readers' comments has a libel and insult.

At the trial the plaintiff claimed his demand and presented the articles published in the "Hraparak" newspaper by other people who insulted and libeled the plaintiff and the attorney Arthur Grigoryan has 5 actions in the RA courts against the authors of the articles. Arthur Grigoryan's representative Tigran Atanesyan continued to claim that the "Hraparak" newspaper had an intention to libel and insult his client.

The representative of "Hraparak" newspaper Gevorg Gevorgyan objected the action. "It is important to find out who made those comments but as the plaintiff mentioned in his speech that in the "Hraparak" newspaper comments were made by other people, the plaintiff maintains that the comments were made by other people and not by the newspaper".

Arthur Grigoryan tried to prove that if the client of the web-site project is the newspaper and the editor ordered to have a place for comments on the web-site, that part belongs to the newspaper and the newspaper is responsible for it.

The Editor of the newspaper Armine Ohanyan represented the technical abilities of the web-site. "The comments of the web-site mechanically appeared in the field of web-site comments till October- November of the previous year. We have made changes after this action and now the comments appear on the web-site only after our affirmation" explained Armine Ohanyan in the court.

She claimed that she read the comments after receiving the petition of the action and no supervision was determined against the comments. "Well, if the operator had noticed swearing we would remove such comments but nobody sat and read the comments one by one, they appeared on the website mechanically" claimed A. Ohanyan.

The "Hraparak" newspaper represented the court comments written under the articles of the newspaper web-site which insulted the editor and the newspaper but they were not removed from the web-site.

The comments which became a subject for the petition of the action are removed from the web-site. The editor made such a decision after consulting with the lawyers.

Armine Ohanyan considers this action as a step against the freedom of speech representing the court the comments made by Arthur Grigoryan that he aimed to close the "Hraparak" newspaper.

The judge G.Khandanyan declared the end of proceedings; the verdict will be announced on March 7.

Aghavni Yeghiazaryan