The journalists which were injured during the events in Sari Tagh which took place on July 29, 2016, are dissatisfied with the Special Investigative Service’s (SIS) decision to suspend the criminal proceedings.
Robert Ananyan, a journalist who worked at A1+ in 2016 and who currently works for Forrights.am, is one of the journalists attacked on that day. For him, the basis for suspending the case, “the accused person is unknown,” is ridiculous.
The journalist sees a connection between a criminal case filed against the former police commander Levon Yeranosyan for the transfer of official powers during the revolution this spring, and the suspension of the criminal case against the attackers of the journalists. Yeranosyan is being prosecuted for ordering the police to take special measures against the participants of the rallies, including the use of light grenades on April 16, 2018 on Baghramyan Avenue and on April 22, on Yerevan’s Artsakh Avenue. In 2016, special measures were taken in Sari Tagh.
“My eyewitness journalists friends will report that the brutality of Yeranosyan and friends were more fierce in nature in Sari Tagh than on April 16-17. I was present at the two events, and it’s really incomparable.”
“How is it possible to detect Yeranosyan’s illegal orders in one case, and ignore the heavier illegal order which had more serious consequences ,” the journalist asks in a Facebook post.
Photojournalist Gevorg Ghazaryan, who suffered injuries during the Sari Tagh events, also referred to the SIS decision on his Facebook page, saying “I was in the center of attention during the whole Sari Tagh incident, and aside from threats and physical pressure I also bore a loss of about 1 million AMD. There was a video wherein the entire dramatic story unfolded. My camera was attached to another camcorder that recorded everything that took place, including threats, sounds, words and more… unfortunately, I was assured, that the video camera with said video does not exist and was not found. The problem is. I have seen how the police forces picked it up from the ground. It is only eft to conclude that it was a targeted destruction on the part of ordinary policemen.”
The journalist noted that during the reign of the previous authorities, he was the victim of targeted attacks towards journalists (Electric Yerevan, Sari Tagh) and fought twice in court instances. “I went to the end and will now go to the end,” the photojournalist writes.
Gevorg told Media.am that one of his cases is being deliberated in the UN Human Rights Committee, in connection with the #ElectricYerevan case in 2015. He is going to discuss Sari Tagh’s case with his lawyer and make a decision.
1in.am journalist Mariam Grigorian has also been recognized as a victim in the same case, and her future steps are still under discussion.
Taking into account the controversial comments regarding the decision, the SIS issued a statement today, noting that the criminal proceedings have not been discontinued, but suspended, which does not mean that the investigative activities and operational intelligence activities in the criminal case have been terminated.
“If necessary, according to Article 260 of the RA Criminal Procedure Code, the proceedings suspended in criminal cases may be resumed and carried out by procedural actions, including without the participation of the accused,” the statement reads.
Robert Ananyan says that while stopping all cases, that’s not to say that all the work is being stopped. “It is unacceptable that they haven’t been able to find guilty people in the course of two years, because there is so much evidence. There is Levon Yeranosyan, who illegally used special means, there are policemen who hindered our work by throwing us out of the car. All the videos exist, there’s no need for further proof. That is to say, it’s a very funny explanation, that they continue. Until now, they have done nothing, and after this, they will do nothing.”
Gevorg Ghazaryan considers it pointless to say anything, “SIS should do its job, not release retaliatory statements and try to justify itself.”
For Ashot Melikyan, Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, this decision was expected, because, according to him, it has been more than 2 years, but no progress has been made in this case except for the accusation of 9 suspects. Moreover, no new acusee or even suspect has emerged in the last 1.5 years.
He finds the SIS’ justification for suspending the proceedings natural. “If you do not carry out active actions for many years, and you do not look for it, you will not find it. If they were to carry out operative activities at that time, they would study the facts and the videos and photos that are available on the web and in the archives of various media, I think it would not be difficult to identify the case.”
Ashot Melikyan says that the process of identifying the case has become complicated. “If the proceedings are suspended, naturally, they are not so involved in the case, and it can be said that this suspension is equivalent to the dismissal or the first step taken towards that. This cannot be taken lightly by the journalistic community and society.”
The CPFE also protects the interests of 5 journalists, including Mariam Grigoryan, who suffered during the #ElectricYerevan and Sari Tagh incidents, and is going to support them to appeal this decision both in Armenia and abroad.