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Armenian Photojournalist Fears Prosecution

Photojournalist Gagik Shamshian

Photojournalist Gagik Shamshian

A prominent Armenian photojournalist says police have refused to press charges against a police officer he claims assaulted him, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The photojournalist, Gagik Shamshian, suggested that police might prosecute him instead.

The attack on Shamshian occurred outside the Prosecutor-General's Office in Yerevan on February 24 and was filmed by security cameras.

Shamshian can be seen being confronted by a man and repeatedly hit in the face in footage publicized by prosecutors last month. Shamshian says he was attacked after he refused to stop photographing the man.

The attacker was identified as Gagik Markarian, an officer at Yerevan's Erebuni district police department. The Armenian police launched a criminal investigation after Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian publicly told Shamshian to lodge a formal complaint.

Shamshian, who works for several pro-opposition newspapers, told RFE/RL a police investigator told him on April 13 that the criminal case has been closed. He said the police have also launched an inquiry into possible "false denunciation" on his part, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

Shamshian, who has been assaulted before by security officers, claims police are trying to stop him from seeking punishment for his attacker.

"I complained about their colleague," he says. "That's why the police investigators are now trying to silence and intimidate me."

National police chief Alik Sarkisian has confirmed the closure of the criminal case, but insists the decision is "not final."

Sarkisian assured journalists that the police are not keen to prosecute Shamshian. "I think Gagik Shamshian will not [suffer] from this case," he says.