General amnesty in Armenia: a turning point in Armenia-Europe relations?
The CoE has now welcomed the move and stated that it will continue the monitoring of political dynamics underway in Armenia, a CoE member state since 2000.
Below we provide two summarising articles from Reuters and panorama.am.
Armenia frees opposition officials under amnesty
(source: Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLM57782)
The former Soviet republic passed an amnesty bill on Friday, after accusations by European rights bodies of politically motivated arrests. Eight opposition protesters and two police officers died in the clashes. In separate trials, former foreign minister Alexander Arzumanyan and three others were found guilty on Friday of organising mass disorder, arson and pogroms, and sentenced to five years in jail. But they walked free under the terms of the amnesty. A fifth man did not qualify for the amnesty and was sentenced to eight years in jail.
Arzumanyan was campaign chief for opposition presidential challenger Levon Ter-Petrosyan, whose supporters took to the streets in March last year to dispute the results of a presidential election won by current head of state Serzh Sarksyan. “From tomorrow I renew my fight,” said one of the freed men, Suren Sirunyan. “We are against the amnesty, in so much as we did not commit any crime for which they have forgiven us,” local media quoted him as saying.
Some 100 people were arrested during a state of emergency after the violence, and more than 50 received jail terms. Rights groups expressed concern, and the Council of Europe criticised the arrest and imprisonment of people for “political reasons”. The Council is expected to debate the issue at a sitting this week.
Arzumanyan and his co-accused were originally accused of “usurpation of state power” but the charge was dropped in April.
New resolution: Armenia remains under PACE monitoring
(source: panorama.am, http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2009/06/25/exxvresolution/)
It should be noted that none of the suggestions put forward by Ms. Zaruhi Postangyan, a member of the Armenian delegation, in her speech before the voting for the resolution took place, were adopted. As a reminder, in her draft Ms. Postangyan suggested that a provision be added stipulating that the Assembly would call for the Armenian authorities to recompose the expert group of the March 1 events to incorporate independent international experts as well.
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