Point of View

Four years of impunity: who is the immoral person disgracing the system


Two months ago RA President Serzh Sargsyan during the Police Board meeting talked about the negative cases and addressed the police officers, "If you have serious attitude towards your institution and I am sure you have, and if you consider that the honor of the institution is your honor, you should take it as a personal offence and you should have told this high level police officer: "You are immoral and you disgrace the whole system".

In May 2007 Levon Gulyan died at the RA Police Headquarter. He was summoned as a witness in the criminal case. No one has so far been held accountable for his death. Police officers assure that Mr. Gulyan either committed a suicide or tried to escape, jumping out of the window from the second floor. Levon Gulyan spent three days at the police, he was not suspected for a crime and was not charged for committing any offence; he was summoned to the police several times and went there. Therefore, there were no reasons for the escape.  

A number of organizations several times expressed their suspicion that before falling down from the window, Levon Gulyan has been subjected to cruel treatment. Defense lawyers who participated in the forensic expertise of the body refused to present details but they informed that there were sings of violence on the body. International experts also mentioned the sings of violence in their expert conclusion.

"Disclosure of bodily injuries, cases of torture and ill treatment during the preliminary investigation is in the interest of the Prosecutor's Office. The investigation, examination, inspection of those cases only reinforce defense of the accusation and its validity", stressed out RA Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan during the meeting with the Head of the Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building Department of the Council of Europe Hanne Juncher and others.

Illegal Actions

The courts confirmed several serious circumstances in the case of Levon Gulyan. For example it was stated that Mr. Gulyan was illegally deprived of his liberty. As a matter of fact, it is the root of this story. The court ascertained that at night of May 9 to May 10 Mr. Gulyan actually was illegally deprived of his liberty. There are documents presented by the state institutions proving that Levon Gulyan was illegally deprived of the liberty while being transferred from one police station to another.  

"I gave the assignment i.e. by the request of Tamamyan, to allow conducting the interview there (At the RA Police Headquarters), this is all I know. I have only allowed conducting the interview there, he asked for the permission (according to the law) and I said "yes". My participation was to that extent only", says General Mayor of the Police Hayk Militonyan. Four years ago, when Levon Gulyan has died, Hayk Militonyan was the Head of the Criminal Investigation Department. Hovhannes Tamamyan was Deputy Head of the same department. Levon Gulyan's relatives several times expressed their suspicion on the involvement of Tamamyan in the Levon's death. According to the legal representative of Levon Gulyan's assignees Hrayr Ghukasyan, to determine his participation in the crime it is necessary to conduct real investigation of the case which did not happen so far. 

"According to the law, any police officer is entitled to conduct an interview with the witness, including him (Hovhannes Tamamyan-author). A day before he went to the locus delicti (place of murder, which Gulyan witnessed-author), he was the head of the operations group", says Hayk Militonyan.

Hayk Militonyan assured that everything was conducted lawfully and each member of the investigation group of the murder case was entitled to conduct an interview with the witnesses. ''To disclose the crime they are entitled to collect, analyze and present data, conduct interviews with the witnesses'', says Hayk Militonyan.

The case where Levon Gulyan was a witness was under the proceeding of the investigator of Shengavit District Prosecutor's Office Araqelyan who was actually responsible for the preliminary investigation of the case.

''Even if the operating investigation group is created, it has only auxiliary function. There is only one person responsible for the case, the investigator. All the others just assist and support the process. The investigator comes up with decisions and act'', clarifies defense lawyer Ghukasyan. "After a person is interrogated as a witness, between this person and the investigator procedural relations are established. Therefore, in the frames of that case any police officer or other investigator may contact the person only indirectly, through the investigator''.

In the case of Levon Gulyan there is a written notification of the Shengavit District Prosecutor's Office where it is indicated that there are no actions planned to conduct with Levon Gulyan, no one received any assignment to conduct the interview with him, apprehend him or conduct any other action. It is clear that the Prosecutor's Office, the body dealing with the investigation of the case, had not assigned anyone to apprehend or interrogate the witness of the case. It was either unauthorized activity of the police or vicious practice established during the years such as ''we are involved in the case so we can do whatever we want''.

Defense lawyer Ghukasyan stresses out that there is no any law or legal document in force that entitles a police officer to conduct an interview or other procedure of the criminal case proceeded by the investigator.

"When they say, everything was done in the frames of law; I would only ask to point out the article and the provision. Everything was absolutely illegal. So, there are doubts on what has happened with Mr. Gulyan during those 30-40 minutes. Only reasonable suspicions remain that no interview was conducted, torture was applied and the fall has not happened from the indicated window etc.", says Hrayr Ghukasyan.

Special Investigation Service ignores decision of the Court of Cassation

''The last termination of the case exceeded previous decisions by its imprudence and cynicism. It is apparently disrespectful attitude not only in respect of Levon Gulyan's memory and his family but also in respect of the judiciary of Armenia because precedents of the Court of Cassation are not applied", says legal representatives of Levon Gulyan's assignees.

On August 27, 2010 the Court of Cassation satisfied the complaint lodged by the assignees of Levon Gulyan and obliged the investigation body, i.e. RA Special Investigation Service to restart the investigation of the criminal case on Levon Gulyan's death and eliminate violations that were allowed during the preliminary investigation.

Only four months after this decision was issued, the investigation was restarted and on March 21 it was decided to terminate the case proceeding.

 "Nothing was done for more than two months, no one received any summon", clarifies defense lawyer Ghukasyan.

The prosecutor supervising over the legality of the case just informed the investigator with the written notification that it is not reasonable to conduct the expertise with mannequin because nothing will be clarified eventually.

''In the court decisions it was clearly stated what should be done: to eliminate lapses of the investigation, including expertise with the mannequin, to determine the conditions of the fall and to reproduce the situation as well as to determine circumstances of the fall from the supposed window. There were fingerprints of third persons on the window that did not belong to Levon Gulyan and so far it is not clarified whom they belong to. There were unsuccessful attempts made to determine. The fingerprints belong neither to the persons who were in the room nor to Levon Gulyan. They don't belong to the person who entered the room for a moment either. The investigation body had not determined to whom they belong'', says defense lawyer Ghukasyan.  

Levon Gulyan's assignees lodged the complaint against the termination of the case. Senior prosecutor Harutyun Harutyunyan commented at the court that ''the police officers had not found corpus delicti in the actions of anyone'' and consequently the case was terminated. The trial finished and on May 25 judge Khandanyan came up with decision to satisfy the complaint and obliged the Special Investigatve Service to restart the investigation of the case. However, it is important to mention, that this is the fourth time the court obliges the Special Investigative Service to restart the investigation.  

Levon Gulyan's assignees believe that the assessment of the situation and evidences are one-sided and should be revised.  

''The main version proposed during the investigation was that Gulyan fell down during the attempt of escape. However, there are many evidences disproving this version. For example absence of remains of cement or sand on his cloths and hands in the case if he really had fallen down. According to their version, while falling down, he had collided with the gas pipe which is yellow and partly rusted. There are no traces of paint or rust on Levon Gulyan's cloths or body. These are evidences showing that there are no objective provisions supporting the version. Besides, the version relies only on the assumptions of the investigation body and there are no objective evidences'', says defense lawyer Ghukasayn.

The international reports have many times stressed the necessity to reveal circumstances of Gulyan's death. On the occasion of the 4th anniversary of Levon Gulyan's tragic death the President of the International Federation for Human Rights Souhayr Belhassen delivered a message and several human rights organizations released statements with the demand to conduct new, transparent and efficient investigation on the circumstances of the death of Levon Gulyan and to bring to justice those responsible for his death.

According to Hrayr Ghukasyan, domestic remedies for this case are not effective and it allows to apply to the European Court.

 "You, immoral, why you disgrace our system"

Regardless of how Levon Gulyan's death is qualified, as a murder or death during the escape attempt, it has happened in the building of RA Police and the state bears responsibility for his death. Undoubtedly, a narrow circle of police officers are aware of what has happened with witness Levon Gulyan, they know how the sings of violence appeared on his body and know who are perpetrators of the violence.

Within four years none of the police officers considered the honor of the police system as its own and none of them had enough courage to point out the immoral one who disgraces the whole system.

Although the RA Prosecutor General tells the representatives of the international structures that disclosure of torture cases is first of all in the interest of the Prosecutor's Office, during these years it is not advantageous to examine and reveal the fact of torture in Levon Gulyan's death case.  It is not advantageous to the extent that the Special Investigation Service simply neglects the decision of the highest judicial body, RA Court of Cassation, to restart the case investigation.  

Levon Gulyan's relatives expressed their suspicion on the felonious involvement of Mayor -General Hovhannes Tamamyan in Gulyan's death. Maybe their suspicion is unfair. However to disperse this suspicion it is necessary to conduct the investigation. It was not conducted so far. At the moment there are no evidences that would disperse the suspicion. In contrary, there are vivid examples of the working style of Hovhannes Tamamyan. Therefore, the opinion of Gulyan's relatives is more reliable at the moment.

On May 18 the term of preliminary detention for Hovhannes Tamamyan was prolonged for another two months. He is charged for exceeding his powers resulting serious consequences in another case.

Whether a police officer unwilling to tolerate disgrace of the system and a prosecutor who has interest to investigate cases will appear or not, it depends only on the RA President and his permission or instruction.

Aghavni Yeghiazaryan
Source www.hra.am