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Armenian Policeman Charged With 'Excessive Force' In 2008 Clashes

Ten people were killed when police broke up an opposition demonstration in March 2008.
YEREVAN -- Investigators in Armenia have charged a police officer involved in the dispersal of last year's postelection demonstrations with abusing his official authority, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Gegham Harutiunian is accused of improper use of a rubber baton against a citizen and has been confined to the capital, Yerevan, pending a further investigation and trial.

According to a report issued by the Special Investigation Service (SIS) late last week, Harutiunian beat someone in Yerevan's central Republic Square on the morning of March 1, 2008, during the two days of violence following Armenia's disputed presidential election.

The SIS statement said that the search for the person who was beaten by the policeman is ongoing.

One protester, Vahagn Hayotsian, claims that improper force was also used against him but that he has not filed a complaint against any police officer because he "couldn’t recognize anyone."

He added that "they all must be tried." Hayotsian says city officials know which police officers participated in the violence, saying: "I was attacked by five [of them]. If they don't punish other policemen, why punish [just] this one?"

The SIS, which is in charge of the investigation, has appealed to all people who witnessed or suffered from police actions during the 2008 protests to give officials relevant information.