sensational defense testimony, the court instead heard sensational procedural
The much-anticipated testimony of Felix Arustamyan,
a defendant in the Tigran
Naghdalyan murder trial, remains unheard after
a week of procedural wrangling during which Arustamyan
got a new attorney.
And in the previous week's session
Arustamyan brought proceedings to a halt when he demanded that he be granted a
non-state-appointed attorney. He further confused the proceedings when he requested
the assistance of one of Armen Sargsyan's attorneys. (Sargsyan, the brother of
slain Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan is accused of ordering Naghdalyan's
murder for a fee of $75,000.)
When court returned on Tuesday (September
9) judge Saro Aramyan granted an application allowing Zaruhi Postanjyan of the
International Union of Lawyers to represent Arustamyan. Postanjyan immediately
asked for a recess to consult with her client.
When court resumed yesterday
(September 11), the attorney asked for a two-week delay in order to study the
seven-volume criminal case. The extension was denied, as was Arustamyan's request
to also be represented by another attorney Liparit Simonyan, who had earlier been
dismissed by defendant Grigor Petrosyan.
Much of yesterday's session was
taken up in debate of a motion by prosecutor Zelim Tadevosyan, demanding that
Sargsyan attorney Hovik Arsenyan be dismissed from the trial on grounds that he
had illegally obtained a law license.
Tadevosyan cited a newspaper report stating that
in 1997 Arsenyan was sentenced to four years in
prison for exceeding his authority as a criminal
Tadevosyan argued that even though Arsenyan's
prison sentence extended through 2001, he already
had a law license in 1999. (It is against the
law for an attorney to practice law while serving
The prosecutor further accused Arsenyan of having a "fake"
license that had been granted because Arsenyan concealed his criminal past on
Arsenyan insisted that his license is valid and that he
is presently practicing with a license granted last year.
After stormy discussions
the court made a decision to temporarily dismiss Arsenyan from the sessions while
the issue is considered.
"Materials about me have always been in the
Prosecutor's Office," Arsenyan said. "Starting from March when I was
brought onto this case the Prosecutor's Office had already had materials about
me. Why didn't they decide to dismiss me then?"
Arsenyan says the prosecutor
is trying to cast a shadow on Sargsyan by bringing the issue before the court
"I resumed my legal activities when my sentence
term had already been finished," says Arsenyan.
"Of course I would never participate in such
measures if I weren't sure or the Union of Lawyers
wasn't sure enough of that. There are no grounds
for dismissing me at all."
Asked why the
Prosecutor's Office has revealed the fact of illegality only now, Tadevosyan said
that Arsenyan hid the fact of him being sentenced and they have known about it
only from Thursday's publication in the press.
"If a person hides
his conviction it is possible that the Prosecutor's Office doesn't know about
it," says the accusing prosecutor.
Court sessions are typically tense
in the month-old trial. Aramyan very strictly warned that he would undertake serious
measures in case defendants communicate with each other. And he warned the gallery
that outbursts in the court room would result in administrative penalties.
trial is expected to resume Tuesday.