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Armenia: Dashnak Trial Ends With Three Death Penalties

Yerevan, 10 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The long-drawn out trial in Armenia of 11 people accused of terrorism and drug trafficking ended in Yerevan today with the verdict absolving a leading opposition party of any conspiracy and illegal activity.

The court sentenced three defendants to death and eight others to prison terms ranging from 3 to 15 years. But the verdict by the judge and two appointed jury members did not find any link between the Armenian Revolutionary Federation known as the Dashnak party and assasinations or the accusation of forming an underground conspiratorial group.

Nearly two years ago, President Levon Ter Petrossian announced the arrests of the so-called "DRO" group. He accused the opposition Dashnak party of masterminding a terrorist organization to undermine the state, and banned the activities of the party.

The ban is still in effect, although the authorities cite the existence of diaspora members in the leadership of the party as the legal reason for the ban. According to Armenia's laws registered parties cannot have foreign members.

The authorities have not yet commented on the verdict.