YEREVAN (A.W.)— On June 8, 14 members of the armed opposition group known as “Sasna Tsrer,” who seized a police station in Yerevan, went on trial in Yerevan.
The defendants are facing a series of charges including illegal seizure of government buildings and weapons as well as hostage taking. Two of them have also been accused of murdering three police officers during the armed group’s two-week standoff with Armenian security forces. All of the suspects have denied the accusations.
The defendants were greeted with applause as the entered the courtroom. They also refused to stand up when the presiding judge entered. Some defendants made angry statements denouncing the court and protesting their innocence, while three others reacted furiously when they were told to keep silent by the judge. Police officers in the courtroom intervened and the first court hearing adjourned. The next hearing is scheduled for June 21.
The defendants also included two men who were not part of the armed group itself. One of them is accused of providing a truck that transported some of the gunmen to the police station while the second was charged with having assisted the gunmen by urging Armenians to rally near the compound and spreading “false information” during the standoff.
According to Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS), more than 60 individuals are prosecuted in connection with the hostage crisis. Some of them will have a separate trial.
The gunmen seized the police compound in Yerevan’s southern Erebuni district and took several police officers hostage on July 17, 2016. They demanded President Serge Sarkisian’s resignation and the release of Jirair Sefilian, the jailed leader of their Founding Parliament movement.
The group surrendered to law enforcement authorities on July 31, 2016.