On February 3, at about 11.00, the Managing Editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily Hayk Gevorgian was taken into custody to “Nubarashen” penitentiary. He was charged with Articles 242 (“Violation of the traffic safety rules and exploitation of vehicles”) and 244 (“Leaving the scene of an accident” ) of RA Criminal Code.
At the press conference, organized in the evening of the same day, the RA Police provided explanations on the arrest of “Haykakan Zhamanak” representative. According to Arsen Ayvazian, Head of the Chief Investigative Department of RA Police, on January 13, 2012 at about 17.30 in Yerevan Hayk Gevorgian, driving the newspaper’s car, ran down the pedestrian Ashot Frangulian and leaved the scene of accident. According to the Police representative, Ashot Frangulian got to “Surb Grigor Lusavorich” Medical Center by himself, where he received medical assistance; injuries of average gravity were recorded. Criminal proceedings were instituted upon the complaint of Ashot Frangulian on January 20; Hayk Gevorgian was summoned to the investigator, but did not appear, the police representative noted. As Arsen Ayvazian informed, on January 23 it was ordered to forcibly summon Hayk Gevorgian, however after the investigative operations the journalists was not found. Hayk Gevorgian was returned of wanted, and arrest was selected as a measure of preventive punishment, the Police representative stressed.
Chief Editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak” Nikol Pashinian linked the arrest of Hayk Gevorgian to his professional activities, particularly to his articles, which criticized the Head of RA Police Vova Gasparian, and were published in the daily in January.
On February 4 Yerevan Press Club and Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression made a statement, considering the preventive measure of punishment of Hayk Gevorgian as “lacking of sufficient legal basis”. The journalistic organizations considered not convincing the police’s arguments on declaring Hayk Gevorgian wanted: all that time, during ten days, the journalist continued carrying out his professional duties for what he even visited state bodies, including the government. Moreover, those days he communicated with the investigator, trying to find out in what capacity he was being called to police. “There is an impression that the selection of arrest as a preventive measure of punishment was made under some intentionally simulated conditions”, emphasized the statement authors, urging to change the measure, release Hayk Gevorgian and undertake unbiased and transparent investigation of the incident. Signatories also called the authorities “to take effective measures for excluding baseless harassment, accusation and impediment against journalists and media”.
On February 4 RA Police disseminated video materials with a more detailed explanation on Hayk Gevorgian’s arrest. According to “Haykakan Zhamanak” Head Nikol Pashinian, the police materials are invented.
On February 6 the supervising prosecutor changed the preventive measure of punishment towards Hayk Gevorgian by a written undertaking. The journalist was released in the afternoon.
On February 7 at a press conference Hayk Gevorgian told about the details of the January 13 incident. The journalist particularly noted that he did not manage to drive out from the parking lot of the RA Ministry of Economics (where he was taking an interview), as there was a stranger standing behind the car. The man would not move away and acted awkwardly. Finally when Hayk Gevorgian threatened to call the police, the man stepped aside. The journalist emphasized that he was driving out very slowly, looking at the rear-view mirror all the time. The journalists stated that if he had run someone down, he would never leave the scene without offering assistance. Hayk Gevorgian assessed the happenings as a purposive action against him, opposition journalist.