Point of View

Levon Gulyan’s Death Anniversary


"Levon Gulyan's death led to Vahan Khalafyan's death," said Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman of Armenian Helsinki Committee, on May 12, at a meeting with reporters dedicated to the 3rd anniversary of Levon Gulyan's tragic death. 

The fact that no official has been until now called to account for Levon Gulyan's death confirms existence of the atmosphere of impunity and leads to new cases. 

(Last month, on April 13, Vahan Khalafyan, brought to the police as a suspect in theft, died at the Charentsavan Police Department due to knife stabs.)

On May 12, 2007 Levon Gulyan, who had a status of a witness but was in fact deprived of freedom, in physically and mentally healthy condition, without any legal ground, with violation of rules of proper legal procedures was forcibly brought to the administrative building of the RA police where he died in unknown conditions.

In connection with the incident Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman of Armenian Helsinki Committee as well as Aram Karapetyan and Hrayr Ghukasyan, representing interests of Levon Gulyan's legal successors, today met the reporters.

Since 1990s till today about a dozen cases of death have been reported at police departments. Levon Gulyan was just another victim. Despite creating a stir all this time there was no confidence that the case would be revealed.

"The police stalls the time long enough to fatigue relatives and the society. In this respect our law enforcing system is quite "stable"," Ishkhanyan says. "Now we are sitting here and it is quite possible that at some police department someone is subjected to torture to extort evidence from him."

There are trustworthy data that he [Vahan Khalafyan] as well as the other three witnesses brought to the police department in connection with the same case, were subjected to torture. Unfortunately cases of torture in police departments are revealed mainly when the person subjected to torture dies.

"It is clear what conditions their relatives have been put in to give up [their complaints]," head of the Helsinki Committee emphasized.

After each such case law enforcement bodies try to lay all responsibility on the deceased person. Law enforcement bodies lack the understanding that it is they that carry the primary and main responsibility for any death that occurred at police departments despite circumstances of the death.

Yerevan city Prosecutor's Office had launched a criminal case for Levon Gulyan's death by Article 110, part 1 of the RA Criminal Code (causing someone to commit suicide), just like in Vahan Khalafyan's case.

The criminal case was investigated by the RA Special Investigation Service since December 12, 2007. On March 12, 2008 the case was dropped due to lack of corpus delicti. After the protest by the victim's legal successor the court restarted legal proceedings which was followed by preliminary investigation of the criminal case again carried out by G. Petrosyan, senior investigator of the Special Investigation Service and was again dropped.

Gulyan's case passed also the Court of Appeal. On February 25, 2010 the victim's legal successors entered a cassation protest against the decision of the RA Criminal Court of Appeal. Yesterday it came out that the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation had accepted the cassation protest entered by attorneys A. Karakhanyan and H. Ghukasyan. 

"We have no doubt that our son did not commit suicide. It was proved also by forensic expertise that he had numerous fractures before being thrown out of the window. He could not have had such fractures due to falling from such height," Ashot Gulyan, Levon Gulyan's father said at the press conference.  

The Armenian Helsinki Committee, Civil Society Institute and Helsinki Citizen's Assembly Vanadzor Office have released a statement where they express their deep concern about the atmosphere of impunity in Armenia. They call the RA authorities to carry out transparent and efficient investigation in the death of Levon Gulyan and Vahan Khalafyan.

"Proper investigation has to be carried out also for actions of the high ranking officials who could not prevent such cases and thus had contributed in the deepening of the atmosphere of impunity," the statement reads. 

Zhanna Alexanyan