YPC Weekly Newsletter

2007


FROM A VICTIM TO A CONVICT: GAGIK SHAMSHIAN RECEIVED A 2.5 YEARS SUSPENDED SENTENCE

On June 6 the court of primary jurisdiction of Erebuni and Nubarashen communities
of Yerevan finished hearing the case of a free-lance photojournalist Gagik Shamshian.
The criminal proceedings on the case were instituted on August 3, 2006 by the
Erebuni Investigative Department of the Chief Investigative Division of the
RA Police, basing on a number of appeals from citizens. The trial on the case
started on February 8, 2007. Gagik Shamshian was charged with Part 1 of Article
136 (“Insult”), Parts 1 and 2 of Article 178 (“Cheating”), and Part 1 of Article
182 (“Extortion”) of the RA Criminal Code. The journalist did not plead guilty
on any of the episodes (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, February
2-8, 2007
).

All the episodes of the case date back to 2002-2005. In the course of the hearings
three episodes (on Part 1 of Article 178 “Cheating”) were left without consideration,
as the court ruled two of them were under amnesty, and one is to be considered
within administrative and not criminal law. The court found no corpus delicti
in the fourth episode (Article 136 “Insult”).

The photojournalist was found guilty only on one episode. According to the
investigation materials, in 2004 Gagik Shamshian received 250,000 AMD from citizen
N. to mediate in a criminal case, instituted versus N.’s in-law, and further
appropriated some of this money, without performing what he had promised. The
court found the fault of Gagik Shamshian proven; however, it shifted the charge
from Article 182 (“Extortion”) to Article 179. Thus, the court sentence was
made by Part 2 of Article 178 (“Cheating”) and by Part 1 of Article 179 (“Appropriation
or Embezzlement”).

Gagik Shamshian received a suspended sentence of 2.5 years’ imprisonment with
probation of two years. Besides, the court ruled that the photojournalist pay
200 thousand AMD to citizen N.

Gagik Shamshian confirmed in his interview to YPC that he does not plead guilty
on any of the episodes. He qualifies what has happened as a persecution for
his professional activities, waged by the Head of Nubarashen community of Yerevan
Mher Hovhannisian and his associates. As it has been reported, the conflict
with them started due to the article, published in “Chorrord Ishkhanutiun” newspaper
on July 11, 2006 (the publication told, in particular, about two relatives of
Nubarashen community Head, charged with robbery at one of Yerevan banks). The
next day Shamshian was assaulted. The Prosecutor’s Office of Erebuni and Nubarashen
communities instituted criminal proceedings by Article 164 (“Impeding the legitimate
professional activities of a journalist”), Part 1 of Article 176 (“Robbery”)
and Part 3 of Article 258 (“Public Disorder”) of the RA Criminal Code. However,
on November 10, 2006 the investigation of the case was stopped due to the lack
of “sufficient evidence proving corpus delicti in the actions of the suspects”.
Gagik Shamshian challenged the ruling of the Prosecutor’s Office at the court
of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan, which
refused the suit on February 5, 2007 (see details in report “On Freedom of Speech
in Armenia” for 2006 on YPC web-site www.ypc.am in “Studies” section).

Thus, Gagik Shamshian became a participant of two criminal cases at the same
time: on the case, where he was a victim, nobody was punished; on the other
case, the journalist became the defendant, and now a convict. Notably, both
cases were investigated by the abovementioned bodies of Erebuni and Nubarashen
communities.

In the opinion of Gagik Shamshian, but for the support of journalistic community,
he could have received a harsher punishment.