Ashot Manukyan, 63, on 12 December was sentenced to
5 years in prison for daring to stand up for a free and decent country.
Obviously, his family is devastated, but at least we have the moral victory. As
official who has attended the trials stated:
Ashot Manukyan was one of
the first people to organize the Karabagh Movement. He was instrumental in
finding the resources to make sure that the Artsakh citizens and the Armenian
citizens living in the border areas were able to defend themselves.
December 12: Ashot Manukyan
is sentenced to 5 years in prison.
December 5: Today they had
the defense summations. According to a American who attended, Mr. Manukyan was
quite eloquent in his closing statement. There were about 35 of his supporters
in the audience. The judge adjourned the case until next Friday, Dec. 12. Those
following the case think the judge will most likely find him guilty and give
him 2.5 or 3 years in jail.
November 27: Prosecution
recommends a 6 year sentence. Trial set to resume December 5th.
November 20: Political
Prisoners on hunger strike. Trial postponed indefinitely.
November 13: Trial delayed
until November 20th
November 7: Trial delayed
until November 13th
November 3: Trial delayed
until November 7th.
October 29: Defense
attorney calls in sick, trial postponed until November 3rd.
October 23: Trial postponed
until October 29th.
October 15: The defendant
is also charged with organizing an unauthorized illegal public demonstration.
The court heard testimony from one witness, an individual who had previously
pled guilty to a crime relating to the March 1 incident. He had received a
suspended sentence for his own conviction. In a series of investigation
statements (before trial) the witness stated that he had received approximately
$60 from the defendant and that the witness had used the money to bus people
for the unauthorized demonstrations at the direction of the defendant. At the
trial the witness stated that he had received money from the defendant as part
of LTP's campaign, but that the defendant never directed him to use the money
for the demonstrations. Unfortunately, the judges in Armenia often base guilty verdicts
on pre-trial investigation statements even where the witness comes into court
and recants on his prior statement. The court was to hear from two other
witnesses. One failed to show up and the other is incarcerated. The court is
attempting to bring the incarcerated witness to the trial. The defense counsel
made a motion to release Mr. Manukyan but the court denied the motion. The
trial to resume Oct. 23.
October 6: Trial postponed
at the last minute due to lack of prosecution witnesses.
September 17: Two witnesses
testified – both police officers. One testified as the "victim" and
the other as a "witness". Per a US official who attended the trial:
"The bad news is that this case clearly demonstrates, even assuming that
the defendant is completely guilty, that the authorities are out to get him. He
took part in the demonstration and he (allegedly) threw a rock that hit a cop
in the foot. Minimal injury at worst. This is really no big deal".
September 9: The defense
attorney made a motion to disqualify the two prosecutors working on the case.
That motion was denied by the judge. The case is moved to the higher felony and
adjourned to Sept. 17 to hear from the victim / police officer.
July 29: The prosecutor
seeks an adjournment to upgrade the charges to more serious felonies,
punishable by 5 to 10 years imprisonment. At the prosecutor's request the court
adjourned the case for four weeks.
July 15: After 4 months in
'pre-detention', a trial date is finally scheduled. The court date is later
canceled at the last minute due to lack of witnesses.
March 1: Ashot Manukyan is
beaten and arrested at dawn after 11 days of peaceful protest of a corrupt
election. He is taken to Nubarashen detention center and not allowed to see his
family for over a month – until his wounds heal.