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Armenian Suspect Dies After Court 'Escape Attempt'

YEREVAN -- An Armenian criminal suspect has died in hospital after allegedly trying to escape from a Yerevan courtroom, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Gagik Ghazarian was arrested on May 14 and charged with drug dealing two days later. On May 17, shortly after being remanded for two months of pretrial detention, police and judicial officials said he attempted to escape.

Court spokesperson Alina Yengoyan said Ghazarian fell while attempting to get through a window on the second-floor courtroom. Yengoyan told RFE/RL the incident occurred some 10 minutes after the judge and his secretary had left the courtroom.

Yengoyan said the suspect had a drug-related criminal record. She added that Ghazarian had decided not to hire a lawyer.

It is not clear why police officers guarding Ghazarian failed to keep him from opening the window or whether any of them will face disciplinary action. The police have said only that Ghazarian's death was the result of an "escape attempt."

Ghazarian's death is similar to that of criminal suspect Levon Gulian, who died in 2007 in unclear circumstances.

Police claim Gulian, 31, fell to his death while attempting to escape from a second-floor interrogation room. Gulian's relatives and human rights activists dispute the claim and say he was apparently tortured before being thrown out the window.

Lawyers for Gulian's family said last week they will take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.