On August 29, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan started hearings on the complaint by Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper. The journalist challenged the decision of the RA Special Investigation Service (SIS) to dismiss the criminal case initiated on her complaint against police officers who obstructed her journalistic activities and used force against her. In addition, the complaint challenged the denial of her appeal to Armenian Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanian, where she demands from the RA Prosecutor’s Office to check on what grounds was the case against the policemen dismissed.
The incident dates back to February 12, 2014. Ani Gevorgian and Sargis Gevorgian, cameraman of iLur.am, were detained in Yerevan downtown when covering a public campaign of the Armenian National Congress, and were taken to the police station where they were held for about four hours. Police officers seized journalists’ cameras and mistreated them. In particular, the head of Kentron Police Department of Yerevan slapped Ani Gevorgian on the face. The journalist turned to Special Investigation Service to report the crime. The statement reported three episodes: the attempt by policeman Vardan Gevorgian to forcibly take away the camera from Ani Gevorgian during the public action; the seizure of the memory card from her video camera at the police department; the actions of Artak Poghosian, the head of the Kentron Police Department, who slapped the journalist on face and seized her phone. On February 25, SIS instigated criminal proceedings under Clause 2 of Article 164 (“Impending the legitimate professional activities of a journalist by an abuse of power on part of a state official”) and by Clause 2 of Article 309 (“Abuse of power, accompanied by violence, use of weapons or special means”) of the RA Criminal Code. Notably, Ani Gevorgian has repeatedly expressed pretensions regarding the course of the investigation. On June 4, she turned to the head of SIS Vahram Shahinian with a request to prosecute the investigator who was conducting the investigation (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 2-8, 2014 and June 16-22, 2014).
Meanwhile, on June 24 the Special Investigation Service terminated the investigation of the case due to lack of evidence. Ani Gevorgian challenged this decision in the RA Prosecutor’s Office but the claim was rejected; on August 18 she turned to the court.
The court hearings of the journalist’s complaint started on August 29. The investigator from SIS in charge for the investigation on police officers case and the representative of the Prosecutor’s Office were both absent.