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Witness Says Armenian Police Tortured Him To Get Testimony

Burned cars on the streets of Yerevan on March 2, 2008
Burned cars on the streets of Yerevan on March 2, 2008
A third witness in the case against six Armenian opposition leaders for their roles in postelection protests in Yerevan last year has retracted his testimony after saying he was tortured and his life threatened, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Henrik Artenian told the court on May 18 that he "signed that testimony out of fear" after an investigator told him "if you want to stay alive you must write what we tell you."

Artenian was among witnesses who signed testimonies saying that Miasnik Malkhasian, one of the arrested oppositionists, organized and led the opposition protesters who clashed with security forces on March 1, 2008.

Ten people died in the violence.

Artenian asked Malkhasian to forgive him and said the police have been harassing him with summons to reaffirm his testimony.

"I said no," he told the court. "I said I will tell the truth."

Separately, two witnesses reaffirmed their testimony against one of the opposition leaders on May 19. The court hearing was held behind closed doors.