Ruling On Mataghis Case: Plaintiffs hail ECtHR’s decision as their victory

The decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on the high-profile “Maraghis case” can be considered a victory, said lawyer Hayk Aloyan.

On Thursday, the ECtHR issued a verdict on “Zalyan and Others v. Armenia” case, which refers to the complaint (about illegal deprivation of liberty) submitted by Arayik Zalyan, Razmik Sargsyan and Musa Serobyan, former servicemen of Armenia’s Armed Forces.

“I consider it a complete victory, which was even beyond our expectations. The ECtHR did not consider the fact of torture because it was not previously investigated in Armenia. Especially when persons in custody are subjected to torture, they have no chance to collect evidence on their own torture. Because of the very fact that the state was idle, we could not obtain evidence of torture in the beginning,” Hovsep Mkrtumyan, one of the killed servicemen’s legal representative, Hayk Alumyan, told media on Friday.

Sargsyan, Zalyan and Serobyan, all aged 27, were charged with murder in 2004, following the discovery of the bodies of conscripts Hovsep Mkrtumyan and Roman Yeghiazaryan, in a reservoir near Nagorno-Karabakh’s Mataghis village (hence the name of the case).

The first instance court sentenced them to 15 years. However, a court of appeals increased the punishment to life sentences. Unexpectedly, the Court of Cassation, in 2006, released the convicts, marking the first time in independent Armenia’s history that the highest court annulled an appeals court decision releasing those who were serving a maximum jail term.

The legal successors of the victims and the parents of the convicts claim that the young people did not have any connection with the case of the murder. It was completely fabricated.

The ECtHR ruled that there was no violation of Article 3 of the European Convention (prohibition of torture) against the plaintiffs, but there were procedural violations of the same article. The Court also found that there was no violation of Zalyan’s right to receive proper medical care, but his right to liberty was violated under Article 5 of the Convention. The court ruled that the government of Armenia must pay the plaintiffs a compensation of a total of EUR 50,000.