Armenian president pardons 16 over opposition protests

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, due to sit next week, will rule on a motion by the Assembly's Monitoring Committee to suspend Armenia's voting rights.

Armenian president pardons 16 over opposition protests
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan on Saturday pardoned 16 people jailed over violent opposition protests after his election last year, going some way to placating European rights groups.

More than 100 people were arrested during a state of emergency imposed after 10 people were killed in the March unrest, drawing concern from rights groups over the strength of the government crackdown in the former Soviet republic.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, due to sit next week, will rule on a motion by the Assembly's Monitoring Committee to suspend Armenia's voting rights.

The committee said ahead of the session that considered unacceptable "that persons could be charged and deprived of their liberty for political reasons".

Around 100 people were convicted on charges stemming from the violence, and 52 received jail sentences. A number have already been pardoned.

The president's press service said the pardon had taken into account "requests from these people, the fact they have no previous convictions, details of the criminal cases and their family circumstances and state of health."

The 16 had been sentenced to between two and three years in jail.

Former Foreign Minister Alexander Arzumanyan and six other opposition figures remain on trial accused of orchestrating the unrest and trying to overthrow the government.

The opposition said the February presidential election had been rigged. Western election monitors said it was broadly in line with the country's international commitments but that further improvements were necessary.


Reuters
Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2009, 12:41
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