Friday, February 01, 2008

Why the Armenian justice system is a joke.

In normal societies ex-cons are looked upon with suspicion since they have a past that is in violation of the law and the mores of the society. For example, no one in the electorate will vote for someone with a stint in jail.

Armenians do not seem to have that attitude - there are quite a few parliamentarians and high ranking civil servants who are ex-cons (rapists, murderers, terrorists, etc.). To someone from a place with a long tradition of law and order this seems like an odd society.

But there is a reason for that. Since the Soviet times the law enforcement in the country has been a joke. The police, the prosecutors and the courts were the most corrupt institutions. A criminal could go free by bribing the police, if that didn't work then he had a shot at bribing the prosecutors and the judges. But since they would need to show a high rate of solving crimes to their superiors, they would need a patsy to send to jail.

To maximize their revenues, the cops had a nasty habit of planting evidence in order to extract money. Usually this would be an 'off-the-books' event.

Since the independence this corruption has thrived. It was used by the previous administration and by the new administration (the trial of the Dro terrorist group and then the criminal charges against Vano Siradeghian). But while these were highly publicized events, the day-to-day corruption of the justice system goes on as usual.

And today there was another event that discredits the law and order in the country. If you remember, a few days ago a KGB agent provocateur started an incident at an LTP rally. Four of the rally organizers from the campaign headquarters in the town of Talin, who were not involved in the scuffle, were taken into custody. The prosecutors have now charged them with hooliganism and detained them indefinitely in an obvious political persecution of the opposition.

Normally, hooliganism would not warrant detention but since these 4 are opposition supporters, they get a special treatment. If they were pro-Serj Sargsian, they could get away with murder (as did the President's body guards who killed Poghos Poghosian, got charged with hooliganism and one was paroled for their 1.5 years sentence while the others were found not guilty).

It is no wonder then if the population is cynical of the law.

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