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Armenian Court Upholds Journalist's Jail Term

Nikol Pashinian testifies in court in Yerevan on March 4.

Nikol Pashinian testifies in court in Yerevan on March 4.

Armenia's highest criminal court has upheld a prison sentence for a newspaper editor and opposition leader for his alleged role in 2008 postelection violence in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Court of Cassation rejected appeals against two lower-court rulings on the case that were filed by both Nikol Pashinian and state prosecutors.

A Yerevan district court found Pashinian guilty on January 19 of stirring up the March 2008 mass disturbances after the disputed presidential election that left 10 people dead and more than 200 others injured.

It also sentenced the editor of the daily "Haykakan zhamanak" to seven years in prison.

An appeals court upheld the ruling on March 9. However, it also ruled Pashinian should serve only about half of the sentence in accordance with a general amnesty declared by the authorities in June.

The Court of Cassation dismissed as "baseless" Pashinian's lawyers' claims that the lower-court rulings were unfair and that their client was a victim of "political persecution."

It also rejected a separate appeal from prosecutors who had protested the lower-court decision to clear Pashinian of an alleged assault on a policeman during an October 2007 demonstration in Yerevan.

Defense lawyers condemned the latest court decision as politically motivated and reaffirmed their plans to take Pashinian's case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.