#99, 2002-05-30 | #100, 2002-05-31 | #101, 2002-06-01


The last court session that was trying former chief of Armenia’s prisons Mushegh Saghatelian was held May 14, and the presiding judge Vazgen Lalayan had more than two weeks to ponder over what verdict to issue.

On Friday, May 31, the courtroom in which Lalayan was expected to announce the verdict was packed before his entered the room, and another several dozens could not squeeze in. When Saghatelian was brought in, his relatives and friends greeted him with a storm of applause and then began chanting his name. Taking into account that the text of the entire verdict was too long the judge read out only several sections from announcing that Saghatelian was recognized guilty on all counts and was sentenced to seven years in prison and 90,000 Drams penalty.

The judge did not forget to take into account that several extenuating circumstances, such as Saghatelian’s poor health condition and his participation in defense activities on frontiers during the war with neighboring Azerbaijan. However, his hands were trembling when he was going to announce the verdict.

Saghatelian was accused of seeking false testimony to implicate president Kocharian's involvement in the 1999 October 27 attack on the parliament in which eight top officials, including prime minister and parliament speaker, had been killed.

Other accounts on which he was accused were mistreating prisoners and providing a faked university diploma to be enrolled on the police force in early 90-s. Saghatelian denied all the charges, saying that his prosecution was ordered by the authorities after he implicated top officials in the 1999 plot.

The verdict caused the people’s anger and they started throwing cigarette boxes, lighters and other small objects on the judge. Saghatelian’s lawyer said he would appeal against the verdict in a higher court.

By Aghavni Harutunian

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