"YERKIR" UNION OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR REPATRIATION AND
SETTLEMENT

Press-release
Contact: Robert Tatoyan
Mobile: +(374 94) 36 17 93
E-mail: [email protected]

July 27, 2009
Yerevan, Armenia

THE COURT OF APPEAL OF GEORGIA HELD ITS FIRST HEARING ON THE JAVAKHETI
POLITICAL ACTIVIST VAHAGN CHAKHALYAN'S CASE

On July 22, 2009 the department of the criminal cases of the Court of Appeal
of Georgia held its first hearing on the appeal against the sentence of
Vahagn Chakhalyan, Javakheti political activist, his father and younger
brother.


The observers of "Yerkir" Union present at the court hearing have recorded
the following main violations:

1.. The chairwoman of the Court, Ms. Tamara Alania, manifested an obviously
biased attitude toward Vahagn Chakhalyan. For example, by the questions that
she asked him, it was obvious that for her the defendant's guilt had already
been a proven matter.

2.. The court rejected nearly all the motions of the defense, including the
authorization for dictaphone recording for journalists present at the court
hearing, the appeal to bring to questioning Samvel Petrosyan, chief of
police of Akhalkalaki district, as well as his son, who are key figures in
one of the episodes of the case, the request for dactylographic examination
of weapons allegedly found in the house of Vahagn Chakhalyan and at the
office of the organization headed by him, etc.

3.. Tamara Alania, the chairwoman of the Court, did not allow Vahagn
Chakhalyan to read the statement he had prepared, and even refused to accept
it and attach to the case (the statement is attached).

4.. The court hearings in the Court of Appeal take place in the absence of a
French lawyer Patrick Arapian as in Akhaltsikha court of first instance. The
Ministry of Justice refused to register him as Vahagn Chakhalyan's defender.
When Javakheti political activist appealed that decision in court, the
Georgian authorities changed the law, removing the provision that allowed
foreign lawyers to provide judicial defense in Georgia.

5. The translation of court proceedings into the Armenian language was as
poor as it had been in Akhaltskha Regional Court.

6.. Under pretence of summer vacations, the court postponed the hearing of
Chakhalyan's case for two months - till the 18th of September.

The abovementioned, especially the fact that the Court of Appeal showed
apparently biased and negative attitude against Vahagn Chakhalyan, once
again testifies that what was going on in the courtroom has nothing to do
with justice, but is a legal <ratification> of reprisal over Javakheti
political activist and members of his family by the Georgian authorities.

May we take this occasion to remind you that on April 7 the First Instance
Court found Vahagn Chakhalyan guilty on the basis of paragraph 1 of Article
236 (acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition), article 226
(Organizing a group action which grossly disrupts public order), the point
<b> of the Paragraph 2 of Article 239 (hooliganism, committed: ... against a
government representative or a person preventing hooliganism) of the
Criminal Code of Georgia. Javakheti political activist was sentenced to 10
years of imprisonment.

Ruben Chakhalyan was found guilty on the basis of paragraph 1 of Article 236
(acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition) and of paragraph 2
of Article 225 (participation in mass disorders) and sentenced to a fine of
5,000 lari (about $3,000). Armen Chakhalyan was found guilty of paragraph 1
of Article 236 (acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition) and
sentenced to a fine of 2,000 lari (about $1,200).


STATEMENT OF JAVAKHETI POLITICAL ACTIVIST VAHAGN CHAKHALYAN WITH RESPECT TO
THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE HEARING OF THE APPEAL AGAINST HIS CONVICTION IN THE
COURT OF APPEAL OF GEORGIA

April 7, 2009: Samtskhet-Javakheti's Ahaltsikha Regional Court of Georgia by
its shameful verdict concluded the discreditable trial carried out against
my father, my brother and me.

In order to bring the case, fabricated by the authorities against my family
and me, to its logical end, Ahaltsikha court was forced to resort to
flagrant violations. In particular:

- Refused to adopt almost all the motions of the defense, including
the examination of the fingerprints on the weapons that were allegedly found
in my house and in the office of the organization which I lead;
- Refused to ensure the presence of all the witnesses in court, as
well as the request to call for and interrogate the chief of police of
Akhalkalaki Samvel Petrosyan and his son, who had played an active role in
one of the episodes of the fabricated case;
- Did not provide more or less acceptable translation of the court
proceedings into the Armenian language.

The authorities conducted the proceedings according to the drawn scenario
and, in particular, resorted to the following steps:

- Moved the proceedings to Ahaltsikha, although according to the
principle of jurisdiction, the case should have been heard in Akhalkalaki;
- Had been keeping my younger brother under illegal arrest for four
and a half months;
- Applied methods of intimidation against my friends and associates;
- Denied me the service of a French lawyer Patrick Arapian by
breaking the Law, and when the defense appealed against this decision,
changed the law itself and removed the provision allowing foreign lawyers to
provide judicial defense in Georgia.

All the above-mentioned steps are indisputable evidence that this trial is
just an ordered judicial clownery, by which the authorities are trying to
cover up somehow the ongoing political reprisal against me. The falsified
nature of charges and the absence of evidence can be seen just from the fact
that even the court, which blindly followed the will of the authorities, in
its final verdict was forced to abandon some of the charges brought against
me and to reshape others. Thus, the accusation of <organizing mass
disturbances> was reformulated as <organization of mass actions violating
public order>.

In March of 2009 I wrote an open letter to Mikhail Saakashvili, the
President of Georgia, in which I called on him to solve the problems facing
the Armenians of Javakheti through dialogue, but no reply has been received
so far... Maybe my sentence to 10 years imprisonment, beatings in prison,
and the change of law for denial of registration of my French lawyer were a
peculiar response to my open letter?

However, despite all repressions, I will continue demanding to restore
justice in my respect.

I demanded in the past and I demand today to put off the charges and find
non-guilty my father, my younger brother and me, to stop all repressions
against my relatives and friends, to stop all criminal cases, to return
confiscated property, compensate for the damages caused by these illegal
acts.

I demanded in the past and demand today from the authorities to cease their
discriminatory policies in Javakheti and implement realistic and effective
steps to address the pressing problems of the Javakheti Armenians.

Today, it is evident for everybody, that the real cause of this trial is my
activity aimed at protection of the rights of the Javakheti Armenians. Here,
in this courtroom, in my person the authorities are putting to trial all
Javakheti Armenian population, showing in practice their disregard not only
for the rights of national minorities, but also for the basic human rights
and democratic values in general. The only thing that remains is that the
authorities themselves find enough strength for clear understanding of this
fact.

Tbilisi, 22 July 2009