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The controversial trial of ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s 7 prominent supporters de-facto ended today – separated into isolated cases by the ruling of judge Mnatsakan Martirosyan. The charge for “usurpation of state authority by force” was dropped, making the now separate cases against the oppositionists more “politically neutral”. RFE/RL carries the news:
The new twist in the so-called “case of the seven” resulted from the newly enacted amendments to Articles 225 and 300 of the Armenian Criminal Code used against the prominent supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian. The articles deal with provocation of street violence and “usurpation of state authority by force” respectively.
The judge ruled, that the seven oppositionists should stand separate trials for “provoking mass disorders and violence”, while the charge of “usurpation of state authority”, which was the main charge politicizing the case, was dropped.
While this means, that the trials will continue beyond the deadline of PACE April session, it also means, that the opposition will have fewer arguments in claiming that the seven oppositionists are “political prisoners” at the PACE’s upcoming session.
It will also disperse the “high profile” cloud from the case, making it harder for the society to follow.
All of this looks like a thoroghly considered plan for putting the oppositionists in jail for good (BtW: Shant Harutyunyan’s case had been suspended earlier in March while he undergoes psychiatric examination).
It also signalls the decisive stance of the authorities to punish political dissidence as the country heads into Yerevan’s municipal elections.