Protests in support of Gayane Hakobyan

Fallen Soldier’s Mother Goes On Trial

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By Naira Bulghadarian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — A woman accused of attempting to “kidnap” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s son was moved to house arrest and again taken into custody a few hours later as she went on trial on Monday, June 5.

Gayane Hakobyan, whose son Zhora Martirosyan, was killed during the 2020 war in Karabakh, was detained last month after an argument with Ashot Pashinyan.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee charged Hakobyan with tricking the young man into getting into her car and trying to drive him to the Yerablur Military Pantheon where her son was buried along with hundreds of other soldiers killed in action. Pashinyan Jr. jumped out of the car on their way to Yerablur.

Hakobyan’s arrest sparked angry protests in Yerevan attended by several dozen other relatives of fallen soldiers and hundreds of their sympathizers. Nikol Pashinyan sought to justify it during a May 22 news conference.

Hakobyan again strongly denied the accusations at the beginning of her trial. If convicted, she will face between four and eight years in prison.

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“I had no evil intentions. Nobody forced him to get into my car,” she told a Yerevan court of first instance.

“I just wanted us to go to Yerablur, my home and my holy site,” she said. ”Bad things are not done in holy sites.”

Hakobyan’s high-profile trial began hours after Armenia’s Court of Appeals released her from custody and moved her to house arrest. A trial prosecutor and Ashot Pashinyan protested against that decision during the first lower court hearing in the case.

They both demanded that the defendant be arrested again, with the prime minister’s son saying that she committed a “grave crime” and must remain behind bars. The judge presiding over the trial promptly satisfied their demands.

One of Hakobyan’s lawyers responded by accusing the judge of executing a “high-level” political order. ”The legal problem raised by us is that there is direct influence on the court from the prime minister and this was proven during today’s hearing as well,” he told journalists.

Armenian opposition leaders and other critics of the government claim that Pashinyan ordered Hakobyan’s arrest in a bid to muzzle the families of deceased soldiers who have staged demonstrations over the past year to demand his prosecution on war-related charges.

Pashinyan triggered their regular demonstrations in Yerevan in April 2022 when he responded to continuing opposition criticism of his handling of the disastrous war. He said he “could have averted the war, as a result of which we would have had the same situation, but of course without the casualties.” The soldiers’ families say Pashinyan thus publicly admitted sacrificing the lives of at least 3,800 Armenian soldiers killed during the six-week war with Azerbaijan.

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