On October 15, the Information Disputes Council adopted an expert conclusion on the case of Margarita Khachatrian, Chairwoman of “Zinvor” (“Soldier”) Association of NGOs, versus “Hraparak” daily founder, “Hraparak Oratert” LLC. As we have reported, the reason for filing the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan was the piece that informed about Margarita Khachatrian’s visit to one of the military units. The piece was published in “Hraparak” on April 21, 2011. The Head of “Zinvor” demanded refutation, moral loss for libel and insult in the amount of 2 million AMD (about $ 5,400) and the court costs. At the hearings that ended on July 13, 2012 Margarita Khachatrian dropped the financial claims towards the “Hraparak” founder, upholding only the demand for refutation. On July 30 the Court of General Jurisdiction did not sustain the case (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 3-6, 2012).
As the conclusion of the Information Disputes Council notes, the court did not sustain the claim, considering that the disputed information was presented in good faith. Since the piece presented the opinion of Margarita Khachatrian, who refuted that there has been an incident between her and the headquarters at the military unit, the court found that the piece, in fact, contained a refutation. According to the IDC, this form of reporting cannot be considered as proper refutation, defined in the RA Law “On Mass Communication”. Therefore, this does not exempt the media from the obligation of publishing a refutation. Besides, the IDC did not agree with the respondent’s position, who declared in the course of litigation that the plaintiff should have requested a refutation from the newspaper first and only then go to law. Referring to the Armenian legislation, the IDC stressed that seeking remedies by applying to the media at a pre-judicial stage is not a mandatory condition for submitting a lawsuit.
The full expert conclusion of the Information Disputes Council is available in Armenian and in English at http://www.ypc.am/expert/ln/eng.