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Council Of Europe Body Urges Inquiry Into Armenia Unrest


Armenian tanks took to the streets of Yerevan following the clashes in March 2008 between security forces and opposition protesters that left 10 people dead.

Armenian tanks took to the streets of Yerevan following the clashes in March 2008 between security forces and opposition protesters that left 10 people dead.

A key Council of Europe watchdog has called for a public inquiry into the 2008 postelection unrest in Yerevan and expressed concern about the reported ill-treatment of dozens of opposition members who were arrested in Armenia, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In an extensive report, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) said on March 19 that the authorities must finally "make it clear to all law enforcement staff that the ill-treatment of persons in their custody is illegal and will be dealt with severely in the form of criminal prosecution."

The report details the findings of a CPT team that visited Armenia in the aftermath of the March 2008 clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition protesters that left 10 people dead.

It is unclear why the Strasbourg-based body took two years to publish the report. CPT officials interviewed some 70 supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian who were under arrest at the time. Virtually all of them claimed to have been ill-treated during their detentions.

In a written response to the report also released by the CPT the same day, the Armenian government effectively dismissed the torture allegations.

"The police haven't received any application on actions of torture, beating, or degrading dignity by police officers from the detained persons, their lawyers, or legal representatives in relation to the postelection events during the eight months of 2008," it said.

The CPT insisted, however, that the authorities in Yerevan have yet to honor their past pledges to tackle police brutality.
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