Vardan Petrosyan Case: Armenian actor sentenced to jail in vehicular manslaughter trial

Vardan Petrosyan Case: Armenian actor sentenced to jail in vehicular manslaughter trial

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Popular Armenian actor Vardan Petrosyan has been sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted on manslaughter charges by a lower court in the Kotayk province on Thursday.

Petrosyan, 55, was taken into custody in November 2013 after two teenagers were killed in a road accident involving him as a driver.

In a late-night collision on the Yeghvard-Yerevan highway on October 20, 2013, the BMW driven by the actor hit a Niva from behind, killing two passengers and injuring three in that car.

During the trial defense attorneys argued that Petrosyan, who was badly injured in the accident himself, was driving at normal speed and was not under the influence of alcohol. They insisted that the BMW hit the Niva not while the latter pulled over to the hard shoulder – as was argued by the prosecution – but while it was in a highway lane actually moving back without signal lights.

While not admitting his guilt, Petrosyan, who holds a dual Armenian and French citizenship, still covered the expenses of the family that lost two children in the tragic accident, also paying for some of the medical needs of the survivors.

(The court also ruled that Petrosyan should pay compensation to the family and stripped him of the driving right for two years).

Numerous activists on Facebook as well as a number of prominent public figures, including world-renowned French-Armenian crooner Charles Aznavour, had joined the petition for the release of Petrosyan pending the investigation and trial in late 2013.

Some of the numerous fans and supporters of the comedian also known for his political satire said the decision to keep him in jail was retribution for his participation in 2013 post-election protests of the opposition.

The prosecutor had demanded 6.5-year imprisonment for the defendant.