Gayane Hakobyan

Fallen Soldier’s Mother Freed After Jail Term Suspended

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By Robert Zargarian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — A woman accused of attempting to “kidnap” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s son was released on Friday, June 9,  after a court in Yerevan gave her a four-year suspended prison sentence at the end of a short trial.

Gayane Hakobyan, whose son, Zhora Martirosyan, was killed during the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, walked free because of pleading guilty to the accusation strongly denied by her until then. She avoided talking to the press after the announcement of the guilty verdict. The final session of the trial took place behind closed doors.

The lawyers who represented Hakobyan for the last two weeks said earlier in the day that she fired them because of disagreeing with their defense tactics. They did not deny that she struck a deal with prosecutors.

“There is a conflict between Mrs. Gayane’s and our positions,” one of the lawyers, Hovsep Sargsyan, told reporters. “We planned on continuing our defense aimed at her acquittal, but Mrs. Gayane is of a different opinion now.”

Hakobyan already replaced other lawyers who represented her right after her arrest on May 17, which sparked angry protests by several dozen other parents of fallen soldiers and hundreds of their sympathizers. That move fueled speculation that she is cooperating with what the protesters condemned as a politically motivated investigation into her argument with Ashot Pashinyan.

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Armenia’s Investigative Committee charged Hakobyan with tricking the prime minister’s son 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.

The grief-stricken woman insisted at the start of her trial on June 5 that Ashot Pashinyan was not forced into her and that she only wanted to talk to him at Yerablur.

The high-profile trial began hours after the Court of Appeals moved Hakobyan to house arrest. The lower court judge presiding over the trial promptly issued a new arrest warrant demanded by the prosecutors and Ashot Pashinyan. The latter told the judge that she committed a “grave crime” and must remain behind bars.

Armenian opposition leaders and other critics of the government claim that Nikol 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. Hakobyan actively participated in them.

The prime minister triggered the regular demonstrations in April 2022 when he responded to continuing opposition criticism of his handling of the disastrous war with Azerbaijan. 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.

 

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