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Slander Charges Against Armenian Activist Dropped

Mariam Sukhudian (left) receives an award from U.S. Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch.
Armenian police have dropped a controversial criminal case against a youth activist who publicized alleged sexual and other abuse at a Yerevan boarding school for disabled children, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In a statement, the Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office says Yerevan police have complied with a prosecutor's order to drop the charge of slander against Mariam Sukhudian.

They also announced a new criminal investigation was being launched into allegations that a former schoolteacher sexually abused some of his students. He was cleared last year of any wrongdoing.

Sukhudian was presented on March 10 with an award from the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan for her civic activism. U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch singled out her exposure of "neglect and abuse" of pupils at the school.

Sukhudian says she has no doubt that the publicity surrounding her case and the support of the U.S. Embassy were instrumental in persuading the authorities to drop the slander charge against her.

She added that she and other young people who worked at the school as volunteers in 2008 will closely monitor the new police probe and continue to pressure authorities to improve conditions there.