Nubarashen prison. Photo by Armine Martirosyan for the "Caucasian Knot"

14 August 2020, 11:27

Life prisoner goes on hunger strike in Armenia

Arthur Mkrtchyan, sentenced to life imprisonment, has declared an endless hunger strike in protest against the change of his custody regime, the Armenian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has informed. The General Prosecutor's Office (GPO) is creating artificial obstacles in the cases of life-sentenced prisoners, human rights defenders assert.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that back in 1997, Private Arthur Mkrtchyan was sentenced to death on charges of killing his five colleagues. He stated that the killings were committed by some unidentified people. In 2003, the death penalty was changed for life imprisonment.

Zhanna Aleksanyan, the head of the NGO "Journalists for Human Rights", is sure that Mkrtchyan is imprisoned for the crime he never committed.

The authorities' attitude to the problem of life-sentenced prisoners changed after the "velvet" revolution in Armenia, Ms Aleksanyan believes. "Several dozen prisoners were changed their custody regime or released on CER (conditional early relief). Among the latter, Stepan Grigoryan, Arsen Artsruni and Ashot Manukyan were released," she has noted.

However, the GPO is hindering this process, demonstrating its arbitrariness, Zhanna Aleksanyan has added.

Naira Zograbyan, an MP and the head of the human rights parliamentary commission, treats the revision of the cases of life-long prisoners for killing their colleagues as important. According to her version, Mkrtchyan was tortured to "knock out" his confession.

The law enforcement system must become more humane and realize that it is necessary to work on the integration of prisoners into society, and not on turning them into beasts, the MP has added.

Nina Karapetyants, the head of the Helsinki Association of Armenia, has stated that cases of life-sentenced prisoners should be considered individually.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on August 14, 2020 at 05:40 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Tigran Petrosyan; Source: CK correspondent

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