Armenia: Witness to a shooting dies in custody

21/05/2007
Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Civil Society Institute (CSI), its member organisation in Armenia, express their deep concern about the death of Levon Gulyan in custody under strongly suspicious circumstances.

On May 12, 2007 Mr. Levon Gulyan, a 31-year-old restaurant manager, died in the Headquater of Police in Yerevan, where he had been invited to testify as a witness in a murder case.
On May 9th, Mr Gulyan witnessed the killing of Stephan Vardanyan, which occurred during a fight, in front of Mr Gulyan’s restaurant. As an eyewitness to the murder, Mr Gulyan and two of his employees, Mr Melkumyan and Mrs Grigoryan, were taken into custody by the police. There, he wrote a testimony, however he was kept until late evening on May 10th. He was then twice allowed to go home but was told to return back to the police station, which he did in both of the cases. After his return to the local Police Station for the second time, Mr. Gulyan was taken to the main Police Department by the order of Mr. Hovhannes Tamamyan, Chief Deputy of the Police Department.

At around 5:00 pm on May 12th, Mr. Gulyan’s family was told that he had died. The police officers stated that Gulyan committed suicide or tried to escape, by jumping from the 2nd floor. Considering that his relatives observed bruises on Mr Gulyan’s body when he previously returned home, and that Mr Melkumyan was beaten heavily when taken into custody, Levon Gulyan’s family suspects that he was ill-treated by the Police officers before he fell from the window.
In order to protect the confidentiality of pre-trial investigation, the lawyers who were present during forensic expertise on the body refuse to give details, however they acknowledged that the body was marked with beatings.

Death in custody in Armenia are not unprecedented since there have been a number of very similar cases happening in the past. This last event demonstrates the need for an increased public control and access to the police stations, which has been stressed in the suggestions of the Group of Public Observers of the detention facilities of the Police of RA in a recent report. (See http://www.policemonitor.am/)
FIDH and CSI call upon the Armenian authorities to conduct a full, independent and impartial investigation, to ascertain the facts and, if relevant, to bring those responsible to justice.

FIDH and CSI call upon the Armenian authorities to fully conforming to the provisions of the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

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