YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Zhirayr Sefilian, a radical opposition figure, was sentenced to 10.5 years in prison on Tuesday, March 20, nearly two years after being arrested on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Armenian government.
A court in Yerevan also handed down prison sentences ranging from 2 to 5.5. years to six other defendants who went on trial with Sefilian last May.
The shortest jail term was given to Hovannes Petrosian, the sole defendant who has testified against Sefilian. Petrosian has said that the latter had told him to prepare for the seizure for a television tower in Yerevan.
The prosecutors claim that Sefilian formed an armed group to attack this and several other “strategic” facilities, including a military base just outside the capital, with the aim of forcing the Armenian authorities to take “certain actions.” They also say that he planned to organize “mass disturbances” in Yerevan during the April 2015 commemorations of the centenary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
Sefilian and all other defendants except Petrosian have strongly denied these accusations as politically motivated.
Speaking at the end of his trial, Sefilian called the criminal case against him and the other men a “fairy tale.” The jailed leader of Founding Parliament, a radical opposition movement, also accused the presiding judge, Tatevik Grigorian, of resorting to “illegal actions” throughout the trial.