According to a number of research publications, one of the main reasons why people emigrate from Armenia is Armenia’s judicial system. According to such publications, Armenia’s judicial system inherited from the Soviet Union is unable to provide for competitive protection of all parties of any litigation process as pre-investigation bodies are still allowed to develop accusations against any party of a criminal case even before the parties are able to protect their interests in a competitive and transparent environment in courts.

Last year’s revolution in Armenia brought hopes and expectations for positive change in Armenia, which, in its turn, according to different sources, triggered a wave of repatriation back to Armenia. This important achievement cannot last long, it cannot continue, and there will be no “New Armenia”, as long as courts and pre-investigation bodies continue working with the same extractive rusted practices inherited from the Soviet Union, which contain a lot of corruption risks and do not provide equal and transparent protection for all participants of a criminal proceeding.

This article will discuss details of an ongoing criminal case – an example of how a criminal case can be instituted based on unilateral biased information, by violating the presumption of innocence of a party, on the basis of the opinion of one party only, which is claimed to be a “false accusation” by the other party, who is not being given a proper opportunity to prove otherwise. The accused persons’ lawyer, Erik Alexanyan, believes this criminal case was instituted in a very biased manner and is being driven in a pre-decided direction, and discusses important details in his interview below.

In answer to a question about the essence and content of the accusation behind this case, the accused parties’ lawyer, Erik Alexanyan said, “In this case I am representing the interests of Smbat Avdalyan and Vahram Hakobyan, who are accused in criminal actions under Article 182/3, Point 2 of the criminal code of Armenia, which is about extortion. To clarify the meaning, Extortion is a crime in which one person forces another person to do something against his will, generally to give up money or other property, by threat of violence, property damage, damage to the person’s reputation, or extreme financial hardship. From the very beginning of this case, this accusation has been baseless as most facts highlighted in this case are showing that this accusation is a baseless one and has nothing to do with reality. From the very beginning, this accusation and case were built based on the accusing party’s and his brothers’ testimonies only, which the defendant party considers unreliable as they are not proven by facts under this case, but are refuted.”

The people above have given testimony to the investigation body saying that Vahram Hakobyan and Smbat Avdalyan attempted to extort one hundred thousand US dollars from the “accusing party” with a threat that they would publish a video recording with his sexual intercourse action with his girlfriend online.

Vahram Hakobyan, who has many achievements in bodybuilding championships and is a recognized sportsman with high respect and reputation, assures that this accusation is totally false and is pure defamation, and in legal terms falls under the category of a “false accusation”, which is a punishable criminal action under Armenia’s law. Vahram assures that he will continue protecting his reputation and rights, and, if needed, even to the extent of bringing this case to the attention of the European Court of Human Rights. Vahram assures that this is not only a “false accusation” against him, but also a highly undesirable fake statement of targeted defamation against him.

“From the first day of this proceeding, the investigator that was supposed to handle the case has been putting only the unilateral statements of the “accusing party” in the basis of this case, and is ignoring to consider the demands for self-protection of the other parties through his inaction and refusing to invite the brothers of the “accusing party” for confrontation, so that the “accused party” can ask questions as well. The lawyer believes the investigator has had an unilateral and biased approach to the case, which has been proven by the investigator’s statements a number of times. Specifically, on August 27, during a court session at Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction, when the court was hearing the application of the defendants to change the decision of Smbat Avdalyan’s arrest and release him on bail, the investigator made the following statement: “Smbat Avdalyan has committed the crime he is being accused in”. This is a violation of the defendant’s right for presumption of innocence. Investigators, prosecutors or any other officials may say that Smbat Avdalyan is being accused in an action, but they do not have the right to say that the latter has committed such criminal action,” says the lawyer.

The investigator of this case is Edward Hovhannisyan, who is representing the administrative investigation body of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan.

Lawyer Erik Alexanyan says that from the beginning of the case Smbat Avdalyan has been subjected to the strictest decision while the case is in process, which is an arrest warrant. the defendants’ lawyer Erik Arakelyan says that the investigative bodies “chose the strictest decision against Smbat Avdalyan, which is arrest from the very beginning of the investigation process, and this was done based on one party’s testimony only – a testimony by the accusing party and his two brothers. This testimony is not proven or supported by any facts. We believe such action of depriving one from his freedom based on testimony of one party only, which is stakeholder of the accusation and an interested party to it, whose allegations have not been proven or supported by facts, is an illegal action,” said the lawyer and added, “Freedom is not just a text written with black ink on white paper – it is a right with highest value, thus any limitation of freedom should be properly explained and supported with facts, which is not the case in this investigation as this deprivation of freedom is not supported by any reliable proof or fact”.

“It is the requirement of the law that the investigation body organizes a confrontation questioning face-to-face. This is about the law on confrontation. According to the sixth point of the European Convention, every person has the right to address questions to another person who is giving testimony against him, and the government is responsible for respecting that right and providing such person with that right of asking confrontation questions. I have filed a request for confrontation questioning to the investigation body twice, and they ignored it. The first application was submitted on June 25 (to organize confrontation questioning with the two brothers of the accusing party), and as it was not answered, I had to submit a second request on July 27. According to the law, it is the responsibility of the investigation body to make a decision within five days after receiving such request – either to make a decision to satisfy the request, or to refuse to satisfy, or to make a decision about adjourning the date of such decision due to certain reasons. The investigation body did not do any of these, which is inaction,” says lawyer Erik Aexanyan and assures that this is a violation of the confrontation right. “I think this inaction and refusing to organize a confrontation with the accused party is done on purpose, in order not to allow the defendant to neutralize the only explanation behind the decision to keep Smbat Avdalyan under arrest. They say there is a risk that if Smbat Avdalyan is not under arrest, he may impede the investigation process, but the investigator understands that if he organizes the confrontation with all witnesses, which is his responsibility by law, this only explanation behind their decision will not work any more, and they will have to set Smbat Avdalyan free because there are no other facts proving he he should continue being under arrest. Even the court has highlighted this fact,” said the lawyer and again highlighted the fact that from the very beginning of the investigation process it was evident that the investigator was showing biased approach to the case.

According to our information, the accusing party is a businessman, who is managing the business interests and funds of a former member of parliament, and has been managing this former MP’s finances for a long time. We are not writing the name of that former MP who is behind “the accusing party’s” business not to potentially influence on the investigation process, but we will publish that name at a future time.

The lawyer assures that the rights of the other defendant (Vahram Hakobyan) have been violated too as the investigator made decisions about him even without questioning him. Vahram Hakobyan did not even have an opportunity to give testimony for self-protection purposes. Vahram is a famous sportsman, and even before this accusation would be brought against him, he had left the country for the purpose of preparing in participation of an international sports competition. “During Vahram’s absence, even without giving him an opportunity for self-protection, the investigator brought accusation in a very short time and sent it to the court. This is illegal! The investigator knows that Vahram had left the country even before this case was opened. Accordingly, the allegation of the investigator that Vahram did not go there to give testimony, and for this reason he can bring up an accusation and send to court, does not make any sense,” said Erik Alexanyan.

The request to change the arrest condition for Smbat Avdalyan and set him free during the investigation and court proceedings was rejected by Vardan Grigoryan, who is a judge at the court of general jurisdiction of Yerevan (Nork-Marash administrative district).

Hopefully, this case will have enough resonance to be under the attention of the society and higher government bodies not to allow any further violations of people’s right for self-defence and presumption of innocence, and hopefully it will not become another case submitted to the European Court of Human Rights, for which Armenian taxpayers will have to pay penalties from the state budget because of inaction or wrongdoing on the part of the Armenian judicial system. Hopefully, the day is close when Armenia will have a justice system that is able to protect the rights of all participants of judicial proceedings equally, in a transparent and competitive environment.

It is worth mentioning that “false accusation” is a criminally punishable action under Armenian law (RA Criminal Code, Article 333, Section 2, Point 1), which envisages an imprisonment for up to five years.

Editorial: “A person is considered innocent, until proven guilty by a legally enforced court decision.”

According to a number of research publications, one of the main reasons why people emigrate from Armenia is Armenia’s judicial system. According to such publications, Armenia’s judicial system inherited from the Soviet Union is unable to provide for competitive protection of all parties of any litigation process as pre-investigation bodies are still allowed to develop accusations against any party of a criminal case even before the parties are able to protect their interests in a competitive and transparent environment in courts.

Last year’s revolution in Armenia brought hopes and expectations for positive change in Armenia, which, in its turn, according to different sources, triggered a wave of repatriation back to Armenia. This important achievement cannot last long, it cannot continue, and there will be no “New Armenia”, as long as courts and pre-investigation bodies continue working with the same extractive rusted practices inherited from the Soviet Union, which contain a lot of corruption risks and do not provide equal and transparent protection for all participants of a criminal proceeding.

This article will discuss details of an ongoing criminal case – an example of how a criminal case can be instituted based on unilateral biased information, by violating the presumption of innocence of a party, on the basis of the opinion of one party only, which is claimed to be a “false accusation” by the other party, who is not being given a proper opportunity to prove otherwise. The accused persons’ lawyer, Erik Alexanyan, believes this criminal case was instituted in a very biased manner and is being driven in a pre-decided direction, and discusses important details in his interview below.

In answer to a question about the essence and content of the accusation behind this case, the accused parties’ lawyer, Erik Alexanyan said, “In this case I am representing the interests of Smbat Avdalyan and Vahram Hakobyan, who are accused in criminal actions under Article 182/3, Point 2 of the criminal code of Armenia, which is about extortion. To clarify the meaning, Extortion is a crime in which one person forces another person to do something against his will, generally to give up money or other property, by threat of violence, property damage, damage to the person’s reputation, or extreme financial hardship. From the very beginning of this case, this accusation has been baseless as most facts highlighted in this case are showing that this accusation is a baseless one and has nothing to do with reality. From the very beginning, this accusation and case were built based on the accusing party’s and his brothers’ testimonies only, which the defendant party considers unreliable as they are not proven by facts under this case, but are refuted.”

The people above have given testimony to the investigation body saying that Vahram Hakobyan and Smbat Avdalyan attempted to extort one hundred thousand US dollars from the “accusing party” with a threat that they would publish a video recording with his sexual intercourse action with his girlfriend online.

Vahram Hakobyan, who has many achievements in bodybuilding championships and is a recognized sportsman with high respect and reputation, assures that this accusation is totally false and is pure defamation, and in legal terms falls under the category of a “false accusation”, which is a punishable criminal action under Armenia’s law. Vahram assures that he will continue protecting his reputation and rights, and, if needed, even to the extent of bringing this case to the attention of the European Court of Human Rights. Vahram assures that this is not only a “false accusation” against him, but also a highly undesirable fake statement of targeted defamation against him.

“From the first day of this proceeding, the investigator that was supposed to handle the case has been putting only the unilateral statements of the “accusing party” in the basis of this case, and is ignoring to consider the demands for self-protection of the other parties through his inaction and refusing to invite the brothers of the “accusing party” for confrontation, so that the “accused party” can ask questions as well. The lawyer believes the investigator has had an unilateral and biased approach to the case, which has been proven by the investigator’s statements a number of times. Specifically, on August 27, during a court session at Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction, when the court was hearing the application of the defendants to change the decision of Smbat Avdalyan’s arrest and release him on bail, the investigator made the following statement: “Smbat Avdalyan has committed the crime he is being accused in”. This is a violation of the defendant’s right for presumption of innocence. Investigators, prosecutors or any other officials may say that Smbat Avdalyan is being accused in an action, but they do not have the right to say that the latter has committed such criminal action,” says the lawyer.

The investigator of this case is Edward Hovhannisyan, who is representing the administrative investigation body of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan.

Lawyer Erik Alexanyan says that from the beginning of the case Smbat Avdalyan has been subjected to the strictest decision while the case is in process, which is an arrest warrant. the defendants’ lawyer Erik Arakelyan says that the investigative bodies “chose the strictest decision against Smbat Avdalyan, which is arrest from the very beginning of the investigation process, and this was done based on one party’s testimony only – a testimony by the accusing party and his two brothers. This testimony is not proven or supported by any facts. We believe such action of depriving one from his freedom based on testimony of one party only, which is stakeholder of the accusation and an interested party to it, whose allegations have not been proven or supported by facts, is an illegal action,” said the lawyer and added, “Freedom is not just a text written with black ink on white paper – it is a right with highest value, thus any limitation of freedom should be properly explained and supported with facts, which is not the case in this investigation as this deprivation of freedom is not supported by any reliable proof or fact”.

“It is the requirement of the law that the investigation body organizes a confrontation questioning face-to-face. This is about the law on confrontation. According to the sixth point of the European Convention, every person has the right to address questions to another person who is giving testimony against him, and the government is responsible for respecting that right and providing such person with that right of asking confrontation questions. I have filed a request for confrontation questioning to the investigation body twice, and they ignored it. The first application was submitted on June 25 (to organize confrontation questioning with the two brothers of the accusing party), and as it was not answered, I had to submit a second request on July 27. According to the law, it is the responsibility of the investigation body to make a decision within five days after receiving such request – either to make a decision to satisfy the request, or to refuse to satisfy, or to make a decision about adjourning the date of such decision due to certain reasons. The investigation body did not do any of these, which is inaction,” says lawyer Erik Aexanyan and assures that this is a violation of the confrontation right. “I think this inaction and refusing to organize a confrontation with the accused party is done on purpose, in order not to allow the defendant to neutralize the only explanation behind the decision to keep Smbat Avdalyan under arrest. They say there is a risk that if Smbat Avdalyan is not under arrest, he may impede the investigation process, but the investigator understands that if he organizes the confrontation with all witnesses, which is his responsibility by law, this only explanation behind their decision will not work any more, and they will have to set Smbat Avdalyan free because there are no other facts proving he he should continue being under arrest. Even the court has highlighted this fact,” said the lawyer and again highlighted the fact that from the very beginning of the investigation process it was evident that the investigator was showing biased approach to the case.

According to our information, the accusing party is a businessman, who is managing the business interests and funds of a former member of parliament, and has been managing this former MP’s finances for a long time. We are not writing the name of that former MP who is behind “the accusing party’s” business not to potentially influence on the investigation process, but we will publish that name at a future time.

The lawyer assures that the rights of the other defendant (Vahram Hakobyan) have been violated too as the investigator made decisions about him even without questioning him. Vahram Hakobyan did not even have an opportunity to give testimony for self-protection purposes. Vahram is a famous sportsman, and even before this accusation would be brought against him, he had left the country for the purpose of preparing in participation of an international sports competition. “During Vahram’s absence, even without giving him an opportunity for self-protection, the investigator brought accusation in a very short time and sent it to the court. This is illegal! The investigator knows that Vahram had left the country even before this case was opened. Accordingly, the allegation of the investigator that Vahram did not go there to give testimony, and for this reason he can bring up an accusation and send to court, does not make any sense,” said Erik Alexanyan.

The request to change the arrest condition for Smbat Avdalyan and set him free during the investigation and court proceedings was rejected by Vardan Grigoryan, who is a judge at the court of general jurisdiction of Yerevan (Nork-Marash administrative district).

Hopefully, this case will have enough resonance to be under the attention of the society and higher government bodies not to allow any further violations of people’s right for self-defence and presumption of innocence, and hopefully it will not become another case submitted to the European Court of Human Rights, for which Armenian taxpayers will have to pay penalties from the state budget because of inaction or wrongdoing on the part of the Armenian judicial system. Hopefully, the day is close when Armenia will have a justice system that is able to protect the rights of all participants of judicial proceedings equally, in a transparent and competitive environment.

It is worth mentioning that “false accusation” is a criminally punishable action under Armenian law (RA Criminal Code, Article 333, Section 2, Point 1), which envisages an imprisonment for up to five years.

Editorial: “A person is considered innocent, until proven guilty by a legally enforced court decision.”

According to a number of research publications, one of the main reasons why people emigrate from Armenia is Armenia’s judicial system. According to such publications, Armenia’s judicial system inherited from the Soviet Union is unable to provide for competitive protection of all parties of any litigation process as pre-investigation bodies are still allowed to develop accusations against any party of a criminal case even before the parties are able to protect their interests in a competitive and transparent environment in courts.

Last year’s revolution in Armenia brought hopes and expectations for positive change in Armenia, which, in its turn, according to different sources, triggered a wave of repatriation back to Armenia. This important achievement cannot last long, it cannot continue, and there will be no “New Armenia”, as long as courts and pre-investigation bodies continue working with the same extractive rusted practices inherited from the Soviet Union, which contain a lot of corruption risks and do not provide equal and transparent protection for all participants of a criminal proceeding.

This article will discuss details of an ongoing criminal case – an example of how a criminal case can be instituted based on unilateral biased information, by violating the presumption of innocence of a party, on the basis of the opinion of one party only, which is claimed to be a “false accusation” by the other party, who is not being given a proper opportunity to prove otherwise. The accused persons’ lawyer, Erik Alexanyan, believes this criminal case was instituted in a very biased manner and is being driven in a pre-decided direction, and discusses important details in his interview below.

In answer to a question about the essence and content of the accusation behind this case, the accused parties’ lawyer, Erik Alexanyan said, “In this case I am representing the interests of Smbat Avdalyan and Vahram Hakobyan, who are accused in criminal actions under Article 182/3, Point 2 of the criminal code of Armenia, which is about extortion. To clarify the meaning, Extortion is a crime in which one person forces another person to do something against his will, generally to give up money or other property, by threat of violence, property damage, damage to the person’s reputation, or extreme financial hardship. From the very beginning of this case, this accusation has been baseless as most facts highlighted in this case are showing that this accusation is a baseless one and has nothing to do with reality. From the very beginning, this accusation and case were built based on the accusing party’s and his brothers’ testimonies only, which the defendant party considers unreliable as they are not proven by facts under this case, but are refuted.”

The people above have given testimony to the investigation body saying that Vahram Hakobyan and Smbat Avdalyan attempted to extort one hundred thousand US dollars from the “accusing party” with a threat that they would publish a video recording with his sexual intercourse action with his girlfriend online.

Vahram Hakobyan, who has many achievements in bodybuilding championships and is a recognized sportsman with high respect and reputation, assures that this accusation is totally false and is pure defamation, and in legal terms falls under the category of a “false accusation”, which is a punishable criminal action under Armenia’s law. Vahram assures that he will continue protecting his reputation and rights, and, if needed, even to the extent of bringing this case to the attention of the European Court of Human Rights. Vahram assures that this is not only a “false accusation” against him, but also a highly undesirable fake statement of targeted defamation against him.

“From the first day of this proceeding, the investigator that was supposed to handle the case has been putting only the unilateral statements of the “accusing party” in the basis of this case, and is ignoring to consider the demands for self-protection of the other parties through his inaction and refusing to invite the brothers of the “accusing party” for confrontation, so that the “accused party” can ask questions as well. The lawyer believes the investigator has had an unilateral and biased approach to the case, which has been proven by the investigator’s statements a number of times. Specifically, on August 27, during a court session at Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction, when the court was hearing the application of the defendants to change the decision of Smbat Avdalyan’s arrest and release him on bail, the investigator made the following statement: “Smbat Avdalyan has committed the crime he is being accused in”. This is a violation of the defendant’s right for presumption of innocence. Investigators, prosecutors or any other officials may say that Smbat Avdalyan is being accused in an action, but they do not have the right to say that the latter has committed such criminal action,” says the lawyer.

The investigator of this case is Edward Hovhannisyan, who is representing the administrative investigation body of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan.

Lawyer Erik Alexanyan says that from the beginning of the case Smbat Avdalyan has been subjected to the strictest decision while the case is in process, which is an arrest warrant. the defendants’ lawyer Erik Arakelyan says that the investigative bodies “chose the strictest decision against Smbat Avdalyan, which is arrest from the very beginning of the investigation process, and this was done based on one party’s testimony only – a testimony by the accusing party and his two brothers. This testimony is not proven or supported by any facts. We believe such action of depriving one from his freedom based on testimony of one party only, which is stakeholder of the accusation and an interested party to it, whose allegations have not been proven or supported by facts, is an illegal action,” said the lawyer and added, “Freedom is not just a text written with black ink on white paper – it is a right with highest value, thus any limitation of freedom should be properly explained and supported with facts, which is not the case in this investigation as this deprivation of freedom is not supported by any reliable proof or fact”.

“It is the requirement of the law that the investigation body organizes a confrontation questioning face-to-face. This is about the law on confrontation. According to the sixth point of the European Convention, every person has the right to address questions to another person who is giving testimony against him, and the government is responsible for respecting that right and providing such person with that right of asking confrontation questions. I have filed a request for confrontation questioning to the investigation body twice, and they ignored it. The first application was submitted on June 25 (to organize confrontation questioning with the two brothers of the accusing party), and as it was not answered, I had to submit a second request on July 27. According to the law, it is the responsibility of the investigation body to make a decision within five days after receiving such request – either to make a decision to satisfy the request, or to refuse to satisfy, or to make a decision about adjourning the date of such decision due to certain reasons. The investigation body did not do any of these, which is inaction,” says lawyer Erik Aexanyan and assures that this is a violation of the confrontation right. “I think this inaction and refusing to organize a confrontation with the accused party is done on purpose, in order not to allow the defendant to neutralize the only explanation behind the decision to keep Smbat Avdalyan under arrest. They say there is a risk that if Smbat Avdalyan is not under arrest, he may impede the investigation process, but the investigator understands that if he organizes the confrontation with all witnesses, which is his responsibility by law, this only explanation behind their decision will not work any more, and they will have to set Smbat Avdalyan free because there are no other facts proving he he should continue being under arrest. Even the court has highlighted this fact,” said the lawyer and again highlighted the fact that from the very beginning of the investigation process it was evident that the investigator was showing biased approach to the case.

According to our information, the accusing party is a businessman, who is managing the business interests and funds of a former member of parliament, and has been managing this former MP’s finances for a long time. We are not writing the name of that former MP who is behind “the accusing party’s” business not to potentially influence on the investigation process, but we will publish that name at a future time.

The lawyer assures that the rights of the other defendant (Vahram Hakobyan) have been violated too as the investigator made decisions about him even without questioning him. Vahram Hakobyan did not even have an opportunity to give testimony for self-protection purposes. Vahram is a famous sportsman, and even before this accusation would be brought against him, he had left the country for the purpose of preparing in participation of an international sports competition. “During Vahram’s absence, even without giving him an opportunity for self-protection, the investigator brought accusation in a very short time and sent it to the court. This is illegal! The investigator knows that Vahram had left the country even before this case was opened. Accordingly, the allegation of the investigator that Vahram did not go there to give testimony, and for this reason he can bring up an accusation and send to court, does not make any sense,” said Erik Alexanyan.

The request to change the arrest condition for Smbat Avdalyan and set him free during the investigation and court proceedings was rejected by Vardan Grigoryan, who is a judge at the court of general jurisdiction of Yerevan (Nork-Marash administrative district).

Hopefully, this case will have enough resonance to be under the attention of the society and higher government bodies not to allow any further violations of people’s right for self-defence and presumption of innocence, and hopefully it will not become another case submitted to the European Court of Human Rights, for which Armenian taxpayers will have to pay penalties from the state budget because of inaction or wrongdoing on the part of the Armenian judicial system. Hopefully, the day is close when Armenia will have a justice system that is able to protect the rights of all participants of judicial proceedings equally, in a transparent and competitive environment.

It is worth mentioning that “false accusation” is a criminally punishable action under Armenian law (RA Criminal Code, Article 333, Section 2, Point 1), which envisages an imprisonment for up to five years.

Editorial: “A person is considered innocent, until proven guilty by a legally enforced court decision.”

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