Point of View

No Criminal Case Was Instituted On The Fact of Torture


Stepan Hovakimyan's defense lawyer blames RA Prosecutor's Office and law enforcement bodies for not assigning effective investigation into the fact of torture of his client by the police officers.

According to defense lawyer Tigran Safaryan, the RA Special Investigation Service  had delayed  Hovakimyan's interrogation and had not conducted forensic expertise. Later, during the service investigation the police officers denied what was said by Hovakimyan. Based on that, the Prosecutor's Office refused to institute a criminal case. 

Hovakimyan is charged for the theft from the ''Moscow'' cinema house on January 10, 2010 and now the case is under the proceeding of the Court of General Jurisdiction. Hovakimyan's confession was taken as a basis to bring charges against him and detaining. He confessed that had organized the theft and it was committed by his friend Vahan Qerobyan.

Hovakimyan's defense lawyer stresses out that his client said that he was forced to give a testimony by torture and there are no other facts proving he is guilty.

''Although the police officers said that they were aware about the case only starting from February 6, according to the testimonies of different witnesses, including employees of ''Moscow'' cinema house, he was taken to the Police several times and was forced to give self-confession. On February 6 he was summoned to the Police department of Yerevan city where he was subjected to a more severe torture, it was an attempt to disrespect his dignity and after being subjected to violence for several hours he gave up'', said Safaryan.

While being at the police, Hovakimyan was deprived of the possibility to meet his relatives and his lawyer, he was not informed about his rights, he was not allowed to make a phone call and the doors were locked for his parents and defense lawyer.

''Then they said, ''Hovakimyan accepted his guilt, you may come in''. By that moment Stepan said he was subjected to violence. The investigator refused to register that fact, only three days later, on February 9, he gave a testimony that the preceding testimonies were obtained by violence and he stated that at the court. However, neither the investigator nor the court imlemented any effective investigation'', said Stepan Hovakimyan's defense lawyer.

Stepan's 4 cellmates testified that he complained about the pain and told them about the violence he was subjected to. Safaryan presented a motion where he requested to summon them to testify at the court. However, the previous judge disallowed the motion and now the issue will be raised at the Court of General Jurisdiction.

President of the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly Vandadzor Office Artur Sakunts stresses out that this is not the only case when the police officers force to confess and based on that the criminal cases are instituted.

''No investigations were conducted on the facts of violence. People are beaten, tortured, degraded for the purpose to get desirable testimony from them and later charge them based on that confession. One of the Medovka village residents was beaten at the police to make him pay back the debt. Now the police do not accept his report on beating''.

Stepan's father, Beniamn Hovakimyan is convinced that employees of the cinema house are trying to conceal those who are really guilty.

 "The place where supposedly the theft was committed is shot by four cameras. Before the arrest they said there is a video record. And all of a sudden, two hours after the arrest the records are lost. There is only 1.5 minute long video where of course everything is edited. Administration of "Moscow" cinema house said they gave the video to the police and the police said they did not give it. Then they say there is nothing left on two different servers. So, there is nothing left even where the video was edited. It is really weird", thinks Beniamin Hovakimyan.

Currently  Stepan Hovakimyan and Vahan Qerobyan who is not suspected by any witness are under the detention for more than a year. Safaryan's defense lawyer assures that it is a violation of the reasonable terms of preliminary detention.

''European Court mentioned in different judgments that the basis for deprivation of liberty is weakened every time when the detention is prolonged'', said defense lawyer Safaryan.

Today Civil Society Institute called upon the authorities to conduct a fair trial of Stepan Hovakimyan's and Vahram Qerobyan's case, avoid using evidences obtained  by violence and stop the vicious  practice of using solely self-confessions as a basis of case investigation.

Karine Ionesyan
Source www.hra.am