YEREVAN — An appeals court in Yerevan has ordered the release of prominent opposition youth activist Tigran Arakelian, an activist from the opposition Armenian National Congress party, more than two years after being arrested on charges which he and his supporters consider politically motivated.
The court ruled on October 14 that some parts of the charges against Arakelian must be dropped and his six-year prison sentence reduced to three years.
The court also ruled that Arakelian must be freed under the national amnesty announced recently by the government to mark the 22nd anniversary of Armenia’s independence.
The partial acquittal made Arakelian eligible for a general amnesty that was declared by the Armenian authorities earlier this month. The amnesty was also applied to Artak Karapetian, one of three other HAK activists who clashed, together with Arakelian, with police officers in downtown Yerevan in August 2011 under disputed circumstances.
Arakelian’s lawyers said after the ruling that they will appeal the decision — demanding Arakelian’s full exoneration.
Arakelian was arrested in August 2011 and later sentenced on charges of assaulting police. He insists the case against him is politically motivated.
“They caught me illegally and they freed me illegally,” he told journalists after receiving a hero’s welcome from scores of supporters that again packed the courtroom. He said he should have been acquitted altogether.