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Armenian High Court Upholds Oppositionists' Innocence

Riot police gathered on March 1, 2008, to disperse protesters. At least 10 people died in the postelection unrest.
YEREVAN -- Armenia's Constitutional Court today effectively ordered that opposition figures who were prosecuted for their alleged role in the 2008 postelection unrest but later cleared of all charges be officially declared innocent, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Following those deadly clashes in Yerevan, dozens of supporters of defeated opposition presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian were charged with "organizing mass disturbances" and even "plotting to seize power."

The police and other law enforcement bodies subsequently dropped the controversial criminal cases against some oppositionists for lack of evidence. But a clause in the procedural justice code allowed them to stop short of stating that those people are innocent.

Two of the accused oppositionists, Aram Sarkisian and Karapet Rubinian, asked the Constitutional Court to invalidate the clause, saying that it runs counter to the constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence. The court agreed with that request in the ruling announced today.

The plaintiffs' lawyers welcomed the court decision. One of them, Ara Ghazarian, said the court upheld not only the constitution, but also European conventions to which Armenia is a signatory.

Ten people died in the postelection clashes between demonstrators and security forces in March 2008.