A Yerevan district court on April 10 handed down a 3 1/2-year sentence to Sarkis Hatspanian, a French citizen of Armenian descent, on charges of false denunciation
. The prosecution had demanded 4 1/2 years' imprisonment.
Hatspanian was arrested on November 7, 2008, three days after the publication in the opposition daily "Haykakan zhamanak" of an interview in which he claimed to have information about an imminent attempt to assassinate Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian.
In that interview he identified several persons and one political party that, he suggested, might have an interest in doing so, including former President Robert Kocharian, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation--Dashnaktsutiun, a junior member of the four-party governing coalition. But he did not level any concrete accusations against them.
Hatspanian came to Armenia in 1990 to join the informal military units fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. In March 2008, outgoing President Kocharian revoked his Armenian residence permit in retaliation for Hatspanian's unequivocal support for the presidential bid by former President Levon Ter-Petrossian in the February 19 ballot in which according to official returns Sarkisian was elected president with some 52 percent of the vote.