On June 8 Information Disputes Council released another conclusion on a defamation lawsuit. The missions of the Council, established on May 1, 2011, list preparation and release of advisory expert conclusions on court litigations regarding libel and insult, protection of private life and freedom of information, as well as providing consultations to the Armenian legislative and executive authorities, local self-government bodies and citizens (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 29 – May 5, 2011).
The Council’s conclusion regards the lawsuit of Arman Avetisian, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of “Minas Avetisian” Charitable Foundation, versus Levon Barseghian, Board Chairman of “Asparez” Journalists Club of Gyumri. The reason for the suit became the pieces “Struck the Family Capital”, “Arman Avetisian Is Lying for Unknown Reasons”, “Some Things Cannot Be Forgiven”, placed on “Asparez” website (www.asparez.am) on June 11-16, 2011. The articles dealt with the developments regarding the transfer from Gyumri to Yerevan of two frescoes by the famous Armenian painter Minas Avetisian (Arman Avetisian is one of his sons). The respective governmental decision was passed on April 28, 2011 and resulted in a wide public protest and numerous actions in Gyumri. On June 23, 2011 Arman Avetisian sent a letter to the Head of “Asparez” with a demand to publish a refutation or a reply. The letter was stored on the “Asparez” website on June 30, 2011. Besides, Levon Barseghian expressed his readiness to publish the refutation text that Arman Avetisian would provide him. Meanwhile, on August 4 the Head of “Minas Avetisian” Foundation addressed the court demanding to oblige Levon Barseghian to present apologies, publish a refutation and the court ruling, compensate the damage for libel and insult in the amount of 2 million AMD (about $ 5,500), as well as the court expenses of 200,000 AMD. The hearings on the case started on September 9, 2011 at court of general jurisdiction of Shirak region (see details in YPC Annual Report “On Freedom of Speech in Armenia” for 2011 at http://www.ypc.am/about_freedom/ln/eng).
The Information Disputes Council reminded that according to Part 13 of Article 1087.1 of RA Civil Code (“Order and Conditions of Compensation of Damage to the Honor, Dignity or Business Reputation”), a claim shall be submitted to the court within 6 months from the moment of insult or defamation (in the given case from the moment of publication of the pieces – Ed. Note), but no later than within one month from the moment the person becomes aware of the insult or defamation. The letter of Arman Avetisian to Levon Barseghian was dated of June 23, 2011, while the suit was submitted on August 4, 2011. In other words, the one-month term defined by law for addressing the court was missed. Thus, the Information Disputes Council believes that the suit of Arman Avetisian, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of “Minas Avetisian” Charitable Foundation, should be revoked.
The full conclusion of the Information Disputes Council is available in Armenian at http://www.ypc.am/expert/ln/eng.