YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A senior prosecutor demanded on Tuesday that a Yerevan court sentence Gagik Jahangirian, a former colleague who broke ran’s to support the Armenian opposition, to four years in prison for allegedly resisting police during his arrest.
Jahangirian was sacked as Armenia’s deputy prosecutor-general and arrested the day after delivering a fiery speech at an opposition rally in which he accused the Armenian authorities of rigging the February 19, 2008 presidential election and described opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian as its rightful winner. Although the police claimed at the time that Jahangirian planned to “destabilize the situation in the capital,” he was eventually charged only with resisting a special police unit that ambushed his car just outside Yerevan on February 23.
Under Armenia’s Criminal Code, “violence against a representative of state power” that does not threaten their life is punishable by heavy fines and/or up to five years’ imprisonment. Koryun Piloyan, the prosecutor at Jahangirian’s trial, said the latter should go to jail in view of the “high degree of public danger” posed by his alleged crime.
Jahangirian angrily denied the accusations as baseless and politically motivated throughout the trial. He also claimed to have been beaten up along with his disabled brother Vartan after being taken to the headquarters of the Sixth Directorate of the Armenian police.
The chief of the police unit, Karen Babakekhian, raised more questions about the criminal case when he testified in the court late last month. Babakekhian stated that Jahangirian put up no resistance and willingly handed his officially registered pistol to police officers during his arrest.
Jahangirian is one of about 60 supporters of Ter-Petrosian who were arrested following the disputed election and remain in jail. The Armenian opposition regards them as political prisoners, a characterization rejected by the government.