Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

There are numerous violations in the case of Edgar Tsatinyan, who was subjected to torture by the Police

February 11, 2021

Activities | Edgar Tsatinyan | Legal Support | Legal Support | Right to Freedom from Torture | Publications | News

HCA Vanadzor advocate  Arayik Zalyan is the representative of Larisa Yetaryan, legal successor in the case of Edgar Tsatinyan, who was subjected to torture in the police division. On 14 January 2021, Arayik Zalyan filed an appeal with the RA Court of Appeal.  


On 15 December 2020, Yerevan city General Jurisdiction Court refused the advocate’s appeal against the decision on discontinuing the case of discovering the circumstances of Edgar Tsatinyan’s torture and death.


Let us remind that on 7 April 2019, in Nor-Nork division, police officers beat 37-year-old Edgar Tsatinyan and, threatening him with drug charges, made him confess to having murdered his neighbor. 


It should be noted that at the moment of apprehending Edgar Tsatinyan, he did not have any drugs, it was given to him at the Police, as a means of pressure. Edgar was forced to face a choice: either a murder or a drug charge.


Afraid of criminal liability, E. Tsatinyan swallowed the drug, as a result of which, he began to feel bad and was transferred to ″Armenia″ medical center, where he died in a few hours.  


Let us remind that on 10 July 2020, N. Barseghyan, PIC senior investigator of the RA Special Investigation Service Investigation Department of Torture and Crimes against Person, made a decision not to conduct criminal prosecution and to discontinue the criminal case proceedings.


While, on 5 August 2020, A. Martirosyan, Head of the RA Prosecutor General’s Office Department of Supervision over Pre-trial Proceedings, refused A. Zalyan’s appeal. A. Zalyan appealed these decisions, however, on 15 December 2020, Yerevan city General Jurisdiction Court refused the appeal.


On 14 January 2021, HCA Vanadzor advocate Arayik Zalyan filed an appeal with the RA Court of Appeal against the decision. 


During the preliminary investigation of the case, not only Article 26 of the RA Constitution, but also the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ratified by the Republic of Armenia) were violated. They clearly record that no one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and when a person makes an arguable claim that policemen or other representatives of the state manifested ill-treatment against himself/herself, the state has an obligation to provide an effective official investigation for each person under its jurisdiction.  


As mentioned in the appeal, the preliminary investigation conducted into this criminal case does not comply with the international and national legislation standards on investigation into ill-treatment, therefore the body conducting the proceedings made a decision without a legal and factual basis, by thus violating the rights of the victim’s legal successor.


Below we present numerous inaccuracies in the frame of the case.


Inaccuracy regarding the time of apprehending, and releasing


It is recorded in the register of persons brought to Nor-Nork police division that the apprehended E. Tsatinyan did not have obvious injuries, he did not need medical aid, and was taken to the investigative division and then released. Whereas, the protocol on examining the criminal case materials states that because E. Tsatinyan felt bad, the emergency medical aid brigade invited to Nor-Nork police division transferred him to ″Saint Gregory the Illuminator″ MC.


According to the video recording of the cameras installed in Avan residence building of Yerevan General Jurisdiction Court, the persons were caught in front of the court on 7 April 2019, at around 3:00 p.m., however, the protocol on apprehending them mentions 6:05 p.m. as the time when they were apprehended.


In their testimonies, Police officers mentioned that in the protocol on apprehending those persons, they mentioned the time of making the protocol, as they did not remember the exact time of apprehending due to the tense work of the division. Besides, the same policeman is mentioned as a participant to making the protocols on apprehending E. Tsatinyan and A. Ayvazyan, and the following condition remains incomprehensible and unclarified: if both protocols mention the time of making the protocol as the time of apprehending the relevant persons, then how did one person simultaneously participate in the process of making two different protocols?


Loss of audio-video recording evidence  


During the preliminary investigation of the criminal case, the device for storing video recordings of the cameras installed in the RA Police Yerevan city department Nor-Nork division was confiscated. It is not a digital video recorder and does not have the function of storing videos, therefore, issues related to the audio-visual recording were left unclarified.


The DVR device containing the audio-visual recordings was confiscated from the RA Police Nor-Nork division, however, under incomprehensible circumstances, instead of the confiscated device containing those video recordings, another device of uniting analogous visual signals was sent for expertise. Nor-Nork division possessed the video recorder, however, instead of sending it to undergo expertise, a device with no information and video recording was sent. This was discovered 8 months later, when the video recordings of the real device had long been deleted.


The loss of important evidence in the frame of the criminal case creates doubt that the investigator had an intention to conceal the committed crime and to hinder its discovery. In the frame of the case, reasonable steps were not taken to maintain and secure the proofs related to the case.


Testimonies of witnesses and the fact that they later refused them


In the frame of the criminal case, Arsen Hambardzumyan gave a testimony that when he was caught, he noticed that Edgar quickly took something and put it into his mouth, but he did not see that item and did not know what it was. According to A Hambardzumyan’s testimonies, he did not visit Edgar in hospital and did not attend his close friend’s funeral, reasoning that he was feeling bad. Edgar’s mother L. Yetaryan also mentioned about A. Hambardzumyan, saying that his son told her that while in the division, he heard Arsen Hambardzumyan’s and Abraham Metkhanyan’s voices, who were also beaten by the policemen.


L. Yetaryan also informed  that the day after Edgar’s death, she met Abraham Mekhtanyan’s mother Heghine Madoyan, who told her that her son had also been beaten in the Police and that they were ready to report it, but later refused to do so.


Arsen Hambardzumyan’s mother Silva Yeghiazaryan also stated that the police officers had beaten her son.


A grounded suspicion arises that Abraham Mekhtanyan was also beaten by police officers, since after he was brought to the police division, an emergency medical aid call was registered for Abraham, but they did not make a complaint, since ″Abraham was beaten, battered, an ambulance was called for him, but he cannot report it, as they are not backed by anyone, the policemen will start persecuting them″, Silva Yeghiazaryan said in her testimony.


Later in their testimonies, A. Mekhtanyan and H. Madoyan refused that they had told L. Yetaryan anything about being beaten in the Police division, and this was considered credible by the body conducting the proceedings. By the way, according to the letter (dated July 10) of the deputy head of the RA National Security Service, when apprehending the above-mentioned persons, there was jostling between those being apprehended and the police officers.


It turns out that the witnesses rejected their testimonies on being beaten in the police division, avoiding the possible suppression by the police.


The act of apprehending was not grounded


The reason for apprehending Edgar Tsatinyan and the others is not grounded in any way. It is mentioned in the materials of the case that during the preliminary investigation, information was obtained that E. Tsatinyan had kept and used drugs.  However, according to the operative-authorized official’s testimony, they had left to apprehend persons related to the murder. The legality of apprehending E. Tsatinyan is also not grounded on the suspicion of R. Margaryan’s murder, as initially, the suspicion regarding the murder concerned other persons. The aforementioned allows for recording that there is no proof justifying the fact that E. Tsatinyan and the others were apprehended to Nor-Nork division, no legal assessment was given to the lawfulness and justification of the process of apprehending them.  


The safety of the person under the jurisdiction of the police was not ensured


While in Nor-Nork police division, no measures were taken to ensure safe conditions for the person under their jurisdiction, and the policemen’s testimonies contain incompatible statements regarding the swallowing of the drug. It is not clear how the person was left without control in the division and swallowed drugs, and in general, how E. Tsatinyan appeared to have the drug at hand.   If he initially had drugs, they should have been confiscated when he was being brought to the police division, and if the policemen did not find and confiscate drugs, then how did the drugs appear at hand once he was apprehended and brought to the police division?


Police officers are interested in this case


Witness H. Balasanyan mentioned in his testimony that E. Tsatinyan told him the following: he used swear words while talking to two policemen and the day before, those policemen had come to his house, had taken him to another room and severely beaten and ″kicked″ him. Edgar also said that in hospital, they wanted to kill him so that he did not complain against the policemen, he asked Hovhannes to take him away. After Hovhannes left the hospital, Edgar again called him and asked to take him from hospital in the morning.


When the ambulance was transferring E. Tsatinyan to Saint Gregory the Illuminator MC, Armen Arushanyan, deputy head of Avan subdivision of Nor-Nork division, and CID operative-authorized official Harutyun Gevorgyan followed the ambulance car to hospital. Nor-Nork police division CD inspector A. Hakobyan went after E. Tsatinyan to Saint Gregory the Illuminator MC and then to Armenia MC. Bagrat Chibukhchyan, head of Nor-Nork division CP subdivision, was also in Saint Gregory the Illuminator MC. Ambulance doctor G. Sargsyan mentioned in his testimony that a few policemen were also at hospital and persuaded the doctor on duty in the intensive care unit to accept Edgar.   


It is also noteworthy that during the preliminary investigation, RA Police Yerevan city department Nor-Nork division head made an inquiry to the body conducting the proceedings, asking to provide information regarding the criminal procedural status of a number of employees of Nor-Nork division, namely, A. Hakobyan, G. Minasyan, G. Hovakimyan, A. Arushanyan and V. Baghdasaryan, in the frame of the criminal case initiated on the incident of E. Tsatinyan’s torture.


Police officers have a direct interest in the case of E. Tsatinyan, which might have also affected the preliminary investigation of this case.


The preliminary investigation body is obviously not interested in conducting a full investigation into the case. A number of actions contradict the ECHR requirement of complete investigation, which presupposes that information and proofs related to ill-treatment should be assessed consistently and impartially. This is a gross violation of fundamental human rights and should receive the attention of the relevant bodies and become a subject of public resonance, as otherwise, it is not possible to guarantee the fair investigation into the criminal case and the discovery and punishment of those guilty.

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