YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The lawyer for a veteran politician accused of involved in an alleged plot to overthrow Armenia’s government said on Monday, November 21, that his client is in increasingly poor health and needs to be hospitalized.
Vahan Shirkhanian was arrested last December on suspicion of being part of a clandestine organization which the National Security Service (NSS) says plotted to seize power. He is among 20 individuals, including the group’s obscure leader Artur Vartanian, who will go on trial soon on corresponding charges.
Shirkhanian, who had held senior positions in Armenia’s government in the 1990s, strongly denies the coup charges. According to his lawyer, Hayk Alumian, the 69-year-old’s health condition has sharply deteriorated during his almost yearlong imprisonment.
“He was a healthy man when he was arrested. Now he is disabled, he can’t move on his own,” Alumian told a news conference.
Alumian condemned law-enforcement authorities for refusing to transfer Shirkhanian from a Yerevan prison to a hospital. The lawyer accused them of “slowly killing” Shirkhanian, saying that he has petitioned the European Court of Human Rights to recognize his client’s treatment as torture.
An Armenian Justice Ministry department managing the country’s prison system dismissed the allegations, saying that doctors examined Shirkhanian late last week and concluded that he does not require hospitalization. The department told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the suspect will undergo two more medical examinations in the coming days.