On March 5, the Information Disputes Council released an opinion on the court ruling regarding the lawsuit of Susanna Baghdasarian, resident of Areni village, Vayots Dzor region, versus “Hayk” newspaper, the newspaper’s correspondent Arman Galoyan and resident of Areni village Svetlana Arakelian. As we have reported, the reason for the suit was the piece “In the Wake of A Murder”, published in “Hayk” on August 8, 2008. It told about the murder of Karen Manukian, committed by Susanna Baghdasarian’s spouse, Hamlet Baghdasarian. The article cited the opinion of the widow of the killed, Svetlana Arakelian, who spoke about the Baghdasarians family rather unflatteringly, in particular about their deceased son. The plaintiff demanded to refute the information, defacing the memory of her son. The Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan took the suit into consideration on August 23, 2010, the hearings started on October 26, 2010. On September 27, 2011, the Court secured the suit partially. It ruled out that the information subject to refutation was not stated in the words of the journalist, but in the quoted opinion of Svetlana Arakelian, consequently the information was to be refuted by Svetlana Arakelian in “Hayk” newspaper. Meanwhile, “Hayk” has closed down since mid-summer 2010 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 23-29, 2011).
In other words, a precedent was established: the Court bound the respondent to do the impossible, i.e., make a refutation in a closed media. Highlighting this fact, the IDC stated that the Court had a possibility to reveal that “Hayk” newspaper stopped its issue. Thus, it should have rendered an additional decision, which would mention the media, where the respondent would publish the refutation, the IDC found.
The IDC also stressed that the Court examined the lawsuit before the amendments to the RA Civil Code were introduced. Hence, deriving from the legal provisions then-in-effect, the terms for filling a lawsuit had not expired.
Referring to the ECHR ruling of December 1, 2009 on the case of Khachatrian et al. versus Armenia, IDC mentioned that the plaintiff’s right to due process, as defined in Article 19 of the RA Constitution, has been violated, since the non-possibility of implementing a favorable legal act is the same as depriving a person from the right to apply to court.
The full opinion of the Information Disputes Council is available in Armenian and English at http://www.ypc.am/expert/ln/eng.