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Karabakh Deputies Urge Release Of French-Armenian Activist

The parliament building in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh
The parliament building in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh
YEREVAN -- Eleven members of the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh's parliament have signed a petition urging Armenian authorities to free a French national of Armenian descent who was arrested for his part in last year's antigovernment protests in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Sarkis Hatspanian was arrested on controversial charges in November after alleging in a newspaper interview a planned attempt on the life of President Serzh Sarkisian. He claimed Sarkisian's predecessor, Robert Kocharian, would benefit from the success of the alleged murder plot.

Hatspanian was convicted of "false denunciation" and sentenced to three and one-half years in prison earlier this year. He has rejected the charge as politically motivated.

Hatspanian fought against Azerbaijani forces in Karabakh in 1992-1993.

A general amnesty declared by the Armenian authorities envisages the immediate release from prison of those convicts who had taken part in the Karabakh war and were sentenced to up to five years’ imprisonment on charges unrelated to the 2008 postelection unrest in Yerevan. But Hatspanian's wife says she has had trouble securing documentation from authorities on his military service.