Photo by hra.am
The court found Robert Hovsepyan guilty and charged him with almost maximal term. However, the lawyer states that there is no direct evidence proving his client's guilt: the court based its decision only on the testimony given by a former policeman.
On 14 May 2013, the First Instance Court of Kentron and Nork-Marash Adminsitative Districts, chaired by the Judge M. Papoyan delivered a verdict sentencing Robert Hovsepyan to 7 years of imprisonment for committing a crime under Article 177 (3(1.1)) of the Armenian Criminal Code, for illegal entrance to a flat and stealing property of 230.000 AMD value.
The prosecutor asked to find R.Hovsepyan guilty and to sentence him to 7 years of imprisonment considering that the guilt of the defendant has been grounded and proven. Notably the punishment for this charge is deprivation of liberty for 4-8 years.
The prosecutor referred to the self-incriminating confession of R.Hovsepyan given during his interrogation as a suspect as a key evidence. Whereas Hovsepyan and his lawyer insist that this confession was extorted through violence and violations of the law; a criminal case has been instituted against two policemen on the basis of this fact.
Hovsepyan's lawyer Sargis Khachatryan in his speech asked to acquit the defendant, as he strongly believed that Hovsepyan's guilt had not been proven in the court. Particularly, the lawyer emphasized that R. Hovsepyan had been summoned to the Kentron Police Department on 3 October 2012. He had been interrogated in the absence of a lawyer and subjected to violence and threats; as a result he had confessed in committing 7 cases of robbery. However, the protocols about his arrest and interrogation were registered only as of 4 October 2012.
As a result of violence exercised by policemen, Robert sustained bodily harm which was registered during medical examination upon his admission into the temporary detention facility for arrestees.
On 18 December 2012 the Special Investigative Service instituted a criminal case against two operative police officers of the Kentron Police Department of Yerevan Police Khachik Bakhbudaryan and Artak Barseghyan and charged them with abuse of power and commitment of official fraud. At this moment the case is reviewed at the First Instance Court of Kentron and Nork-Marash Adminstrative Districts.
The lawyer also reminded that although Hovsepyan had confessed in committing 7 instances of robbery, in December 2012 the pre-trial investigation body dropped 6 charges against him due to lack of evidence.
The lawyer stated that the protocol of interrogation should be considered as inadmissible evidence, so the court decision shall not be grounded on it as this evidence had been obtained unlawfully.
The lawyer had also submitted private inquiries and found out that there is no such a person as Gohar Hamayaki Tadevosyan, although she, according to materials of the case, participated in various investigation procedures as a witness of inquest and her name and signature appeared in a number of protocols.
“There is an impression that in the Kentron Police Department's investigative division has a staff position of witness of inquest, and this post is occupied by a person who does not exist in Armenia – Gohar Hamayaki Tadevosyan,” stated Sargis Khachatryan in the courtroom.
The fact that no such witness of inquest had been present at a number of criminal proceedings was confirmed also by the victim and the witness Albert Gevorgyan. Taking into consideration that these proceedings had been conducted with violations of the law, the lawyer motioned that these protocols (on seizure of property and identification of a stolen computer) also be considered inadmissible.
The lawyer yet during the pre-trial investigation had submitted a motion requesting to examine the printouts of phone conversations of operative detectives of the Criminal Investigation Division Khachik Bakhbudaryan and Artak Barseghyan as well as Albert Gevorgyan. The motion had been dismissed. However, the printouts of the abovementioned phone conversations are available in the case files of the criminal case against two operative detectives on exercising violence against Hovsepyan.
These printouts prove that prior to and after the arrest of Hovsepyan the policemen in question had frequent telephone contacts with witness Albert Gevorgyan. The latter while testifying as a witness in the courtroom stated that he did not know the policemen in question, however, during subsequent testimony he changed his statement. Gevordyan stated that he could have been having telephone contacts with the operative detectives regarding the fact of the theft at his flat.
The lawyer emphasized that one of the thefts that Hovsepyan had been initially charged with happened in the flat of the witness Gevorgyan. It was also mentioned that until 2003Gevorgyan worked at the same Police Department “Kentron”.
Taking into consideration the above-mentioned facts, the lawyer requested that testimonies of witness Gevorgyan be also considered unreliable, hence the court’s decision shall not be grounded on it.
The lawyer also reminded that according to the statement of Gevorgyan, the video surveillance system of the “Star” bar should have recorded the moment when Hovsepyan sold allegedly the stolen computer to Gevorgyan. However, for unclear reasons, the video tape had not been requested, analyzed and included in the case files.
Robert Hovsepyan in his final speech reiterated that he was not guilty.
The court, considering the presented evidence, ruled that “in the criminal case no objective data were obtained, which could raise any doubt against reliability of the testimonies of the witness Albert Gevorgyan”, and that the guilt of the defendant was fully proved.
The court found that there were no circumstances that would positively characterize the defendant and mitigate his guilt and punishment, and added that the repeated commission of a crime was an aggravating factor in this case, as Hovsepyan has been sentenced before.
The court grounded its ruling on the testimonies of the witness Albert Gevorgyan, who stated that Hovsepyan had sold a white computer to him, which he later handed over to police.
There is no direct evidence proving the guilt of Hovsepyan, such as fingerprints or testimonies of any other eye- witness.
No experiment was carried out to check whether it was possible to enter the flat and leave it the way that was suggested by the investigation.
The defense is going to appeal the verdict.
By Anna Melikyan