Due to the position of the European Court of Human Rights, the previous judicial acts regarding the case of "March 1" will be reviewed. The RA Prosecutor General talks about amnesty act, March 1, Kocharyan and other scandalous cases


The Prosecutor's Office is not constrained by anyone or anything, especially me as a person and as a Prosecutor General. By all criminal cases, including this one, which is of exceptional importance in the history of Armenia, we take a position exclusively to ensure the legality of the preliminary investigation. In an interview with Tert.am, RA Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan stated this, referring to the case of ”March 1”, the charge brought against the retired President Robert Kocharyan, the case of former Defense Minister Mikayel Harutyunyan, the amnesty act, the activities and position of the Prosecutor's Office regarding the measures of restraints, and the activities of the Prosecutor's Office.


- Mr. Davtyan, there is no precedent in the judicial system of Armenia when the Prosecutor General personally defends an appeal in court regarding the selection of a measure of restraint. Why did you make a decisionpersonally to take part in the investigation of appeal of the Prosecutor's Officeregarding the elimination of detention as a measure of restraint against second president Robert Kocharyan? Was it due to fears that your appeal would not be upheld, or was there some other reason? Wasn't that due to political pressure on you?


- Let me start from the end. The Prosecutor's Office is not constrained by anyone or anything, especially me as a person and as a Prosecutor General. By all criminal cases, including this one, which is of exceptional importance in the history of Armenia, we take a position exclusively to ensure the legality of the preliminary investigation. I am sorry that the belief that the Prosecutor's Office while carrying out its functions and making decisions is guided by signals from the political authorities remains rooted in the consciousness of certain social groups.


This perception does not allow us to notice, to appreciate that enormous work that we are doing, despite all our shortcomings, to strengthen the rule of law, fight against crime, protect the rights of participants in criminal proceedings, protect state interests and ensure the legitimacy of pre-trial proceedings. Maybe we may have a share of guilt in the formation of such mindset. However, for example, I am sure that in the face of these misconceptions, not everyone can imagine that the Prosecutor General can decide to take part in a court hearing, about which even the highest authorities are not aware. But this is exactly what should have been normal.


I would like to remind you that I launched a cassation appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal to eliminate the decision of the Court of First Instance to apply detention as a measure of restraint against Robert Kocharyan. It refers to a person who has been the second president of our country for 10 years. In other words, the situation was exceptional in all respects, and therefore implied a non-standard approach. My decision regarding taking part in the trial was based on the responsibility for all the factors I mentioned. As the Prosecutor General, I must guarantee the effectiveness, completeness, comprehensiveness and objectivity of the investigation of this criminal case exceptional in the history of our state. Any other factor has not played and cannot play a role.


- You have stated for many times that the interrogations regarding the case of "March 1" are still being conducted. Once you mentioned that in 2017, more than 100 people were interrogated. Why weren't there the revelations that we havenow and why weren't there the accused that we have now? What influencedid politics have on this case?


- The preliminary investigation of the criminal case initiated regarding those cases has never stopped. Indeed, many other investigative actions have been taken in previous years, as a result of which, the body conducting the proceedings has not been able to obtain the factual data that is available today. And it was not being succeeded, because although there are many participants and witnesses to these events, they were not willing to cooperate with the law enforcement system.


After the events of April-May in the republic, we had a situation when people who were interrogated before began to cooperate with the investigation body, provide information that had not been previously reported.For example, you are aware that by one case, the Prosecutor’s Office initiated proceedings (on the basis of a new circumstance) and sent it to the RA SIS with a view to carry out investigation.Most likely, we will have opportunities to initiate proceedings in the near future.This fact proves that the facts that we have in the proceedings of  “March 1” case differ from the factual base that we had before.


As you know, we already have the position of the European Court of Human Rights on the previous verdicts by the cases related to March 1 events, on the basis of which, due to a new circumstance, the previous judicial acts will be reviewed. If the policy has anything to do with it, as you mentioned, it has been manifested only in the willingness to cooperate freely.


- Mr. Davtyan, in an interview with Tert.am last year, you said the following regarding Sefilyan's case, the case of armed group of Nork Marash. "It is obvious that the crimes planned by Sefilyan and others, as well as the members of Nork-Marash group, did not have the desired end. The public's attitude towards such events and their participants showed that such crimes are unacceptable for the overwhelming majority. ” Dear Prosecutor, today, apart from Marash's case, the others have not only been released from custody, but also amnesty will be applied if the victims do not object. What has changed?


- I am sure that the attitude of the overwhelming majority of the society towards such events has not changed. Otherwise, it would be incomprehensible and disturbing.


The application of amnesty for those involved as accused by the criminal cases you have singled out has nothing to do with the Prosecutor's Office or the functions of the Prosecutor's Office. By simply making political decision the state has thus shown goodwill towards those who have been granted amnesty. But I would like to draw your attention to two important factors.


First of all, the law on amnesty was adopted in the National Assembly unanimously, though individual deputies at that moment, later expressed their public disagreement. Thus, that act was carried out with the broad social and political consensus. Second, the law provides for a very important and exclusive reservation for these specific cases. Amnesty is granted, if the victims that suffered physical damage or were taken as  hostage do not object.


That crimes are two-object crimes: they encroach on public safety first, then on the health and freedom of a particular individual. And ensuring the simultaneous position of the addressees of these two objects has balanced the situation both legally and morally. If the highest executive and legislative bodies, as bodies in charge of public security, have expressed their unanimous humanitarian position in passing the law, every individual who has suffered any particular harm must decide for himself/herself whether to forgive or not in order to have a specific criminal legalresults. And most importantly, amnesty does not apply to cases that resulted to death. We are satisfied with this approach.


- After a number of scandalous cases in May, why did the prosecutors, without revealing any new circumstances, have started not to present objections regarding the release from custody of the defendants by the cases of Samvel Babayan, ''Sasna Tsrer'', Zhirayr Sefilyan, Andrias Ghukasyan? Also the personal guarantee has been applied. Doesn't this mean that the handwriting of the Prosecutor's Office has changed before and now?


- By all the criminal cases you mentioned, people carried out or were preparing to carry out actions against a specific official or officials representing the state authorities. The degree of public danger of the actions incriminated to these people, the risk of predicting their behavior, were especially high with the risk of continuing that criminal intentions. If you have followed the court hearings or the public statements of the defendants by these cases, you have probably been convinced that they were calling for the continuation of the armed fight due to the factor of specific representatives of the government. As a result of the socio-political processes and changes in the country, the latter are no longer in power. Thus, the need to guarantee the proper conduct of the mentioned people through detention was significantly reduced. And I announced from the tribune of the National Assembly that under the conditions of the new situation we are ready to discuss the possibility of changing the measure of estraint applied against those people, if they behave properly, that is to say, if they prove that they are not really dangerous anymore.


And the prosecutors by that cases in each specific case by assessing the behaviour of that people, as well as the grounds for the use of bail as a measure of restraint, did not present objections regarding the petitions. As a result the majority of defendants by that cases were realesed from custody on the basis of the change of measures of restraint.


In this sense, noticing some misunderstandings in our society that are visible to me, I would like to emphasize one important fact.Although that people are currentlyrealesed from custody, the criminal cases have not been terminated and the trial is still in process. And in any case, when any of these people is found to have violated the terms of the measure of restraint, all necessary measures will be taken immediately to apply more severe measures against them.


- Mr. Davtyan, why is General Manvel Grigoryan is under custody? I am sure you will have heard many opinions that all of them were released from detention except Manvel Grigoryan, who on the basis of expertise also has more than 10 diseases, including cancer, which is incompatible with the conditions of detention. Isn't the government's slogan violated that the courts are independent and the law enforcement system is independent?

- In addition to the fact that Manvel Grigoryan is currently accused of multiple crimes, the investigation also revealed the need for carrying out full, objective, comprehensive preliminary investigation for new episodes of systematic, coordinated crimes, which including in line with the requirements fixed in the international legal acts continues to maintain grounds and need for ensuring the proper behavior of the accused by that type of measure of restraint.


The choice of a measure of restraint is never aimless. As for the health condition of the accused, the Prosecutor's Office is constantly actively monitoring the dynamics of his health condition and provided necessary professional medical care in order to make an appropriate court decision in case of receiving data excluding detention. I would just like to mention that during this period many regular medical consultations have been carried out, 2 forensic examinations have been appointed.


- Former Minister of Defense Mikayel Harutyunyan and Former Head of Investigation Group of March 1 case Vahagn Harutyunyan are wanted by the Police. However, Russia examined the documents and specifically regarding M. Harutyunyanrejected the request for extraditionto Armenia. What to do in this case, and was the denial based solely on the fact that he was a Russian citizen or after the examination of documents the accusation?


-Wrong misinterpretations are presented to public. The legal process is as follows. The wanted accused must be found out, after which the extradition process will start. As a result of this, it will only be possible to have the position of the country where he is found out on whether or not to extradite the person. No official process has been carried out regarding the finding out or extraditing these individuals, so the rest of the comments and information are assumptions. At the same time, due to certain data, the issue of Mikayel Harutyunyan's citizenship is being verified.


- Mr. Prosecutor, this year was the 100th anniversary of the Prosecutor's Office. And also 2018 is coming to an end. What problems have been solved during the previous years, what are the challenges and what steps are being taken to solve them?


- Indeed, the year was historical and symbolic for us. Our generation of prosecutors was fortunate to sum up the legacy of our system's 100-year history, by attaching importance and appreciating the tremendous work done by our former generations in both the fight against crime and the strengthening of the rule of law in the three republics of Armenia.


I think we succeeded in celebrating the holiday with honor and dignity, with the involvement of delegations from about 20 foreign countries, our partners, veterans and the whole system.


The most important problem that has been solved is to ensure a truly dynamic continuation of the establishment and development of the Prosecutor's Office. Proof of this is the creation of a clear role for the Prosecutor's Office in the system of public administration under the Constitution and strong guarantees of status independence.This is really important in the current context of a full criminal procedure, both in terms of ensuring legality of realization of human rights and freedoms. The second major achievement is the complete elimination of corruption in the system, for which great efforts have been made over the years.And I am proud to mention this fact, as I have shown particular consistency in this direction. This led to a continuous increase in confidence of public toward the system.


In the short period, the results registered during my tenure have been targeted. First of all, there has been a serious fight against corruption throughout this period. The results for 2017, 2018 regarding the part of detection of corruption crimes and criminal prosecutions are many times (2-3 times) different from the previous period. We have been particularly consistent in revealing schematic systemic corruption chains.


We have made significant progress in the systemic fight against illegal logging. By the initiative of the Prosecutor's Office, the sub-legislative framework regulating the field has been reformed, the control over deforestation and timber transportation has been strengthened. As a result of these measures, only in 2017 more people have been subjected to criminal liability for illegal logging than in 2011-2016.


As a result of our studies and measures taken by the Board of the Prosecutor's Office, the practice of searching for those who evade justice has significantly improved.


I consider importantthe studies regarding the state of protection of conventional human rights in Armenia based on judgments and legal positions of ECHR and the investment of rules set by the Prosecutor’s Office with a view to eliminate issues registered as a result of them. This is about the prevention and effective investigation of torture, the practice of applying detention as a measure of restraint.


But despite all this, of course, we have problems that we have never hidden. We believe that there is serious work to be done to prevent certain types of crimes, such as burglary, traffic and other crimes, grave and particularly grave crimes, to ensure full protection of citizens' rights during criminal procedure, to involve qualified personnel in the system of the Prosecutor’s Office, to develop human resource skills.


The prosecutor's office is a living, active organism. Like all other aspects of public life and public administration, it also needs to be constantly improved, in this case in line with both public demands and the development of legal thinking.


- Mr. Davtyan, after the change of the political situation in Armenia, all the heads of the law enforcement bodies have been changed, except for the Prosecutor's Office, which is a supervisory body. Whatisthereasonforthecontinuationofyourtenure?

- Although I have had the opportunity to answer this question for many times, the fact that this question remains relevant forces me to make additional clarifications by opening some brackets related to the reasons.


In fact, the problem has two aspects: legal and moral. From a legal point of view, as I have had the opportunity to say, it relates to the constitutional guarantees of the status of independence of the Prosecutor's Office and the Prosecutor General from all the branches of state power.If the change in the political situation in any case should lead to the mandatory resignation of the Prosecutor General, then there is no point in ensuring such guarantees in the Constitution.In that case, there is no point in talking about the independence of the Prosecutor's Office. As a result of the political change, the resignation of the heads of the independent bodies, in this case the Prosecutor General, would mean accepting the reality of the political influence on the Prosecutor's Office.In this sense, my decision was against the destructive mentality, that the Prosecutor General is part of the political power, so he must leave immediately as a result of any change of government.


But that's not the only problem. The Prosecutor General, unlike the heads of other law enforcement bodies, is elected by the National Assembly. After the political changes, did the ratio of the forces formed in the parliament create an opportunity to elect a new Prosecutor General?The failed voting on the election of members of the Constitutional Court, as well as on other important issues, clearly gives the answer to that question. At that time, I was guided by the belief that in such a transitional, crucial period for our country, in the conditions of sharp activation of criminal and legal processes, the country cannot remain without the Prosecutor General.


The second, moral aspect of the issue is related to the risk of superficial public perceptions of measuring the activities of all officials. And my resignation would not be an exception. Meanwhile, during my professional and official activities as a Prosecutor General, we have spared no effort to carry out conscientious law enforcement service. This is a matter of principle and dignity.


Besides, was very important the fact that during this time I never felt such significant obstacles that would make it impossible for me to continue to serve the country in this capacity.


I really attach great importance to the factor of public trust and legitimacy. I have never had any complex of clinging to the post, and I have always been ready to leave with a clear forehead in conditions that can be perceived and explained to everyone, including my colleagues who believe in me.