The trial finally commenced two days ago and was adjourned to finish next Friday the 26th. Apparently it took the regime 6 months to come up with a story of throwing a rock from 6 feet away and two witnesses. Here is the first hand report of the trial from a US Official in Yerevan:
I did attend the Manukyan trial on Wednesday. Two witnesses testified – both police officers. One testified as the "victim" and the other as a "witness". The victim testified that he saw the defendant at the rally and that the defendant was part of the crowd, chanting against the police. At one point the defendant had a stone or a rock in his hand and he threw it at the police officer, hitting him on the left foot. (The officer was in full riot gear, with a shield and helmet, so it is doubtful he was wearing sandals). The officer later went to the hospital. There was no testimony that he was ever in pain or that he ever broke any bones. The defendant was only about 2 meters from him at the time. The testimony, thus, was pretty weak. The defendant identified him at a later date.
The second witness was worse (for the prosecution) than the first. He remembered the defendant being there, milling about, and working up the crowd. But that was it. The prosecutor reminded him of his prior investigation statement, which was more helpful to the prosecution, and he acknowledged that the prior information was correct.
First some good news – I think the judge is a very fair fellow who is genuinely concerned about justice in general. Whether he will be brave enough in this case to return an acquittal is another story, since I barely know the judge (we have had conversations) and he may feel the need to return a conviction.
The bad news is that this case clearly demonstrates, even assuming that the defendant is completely guilty, that the authorities are out to get him. He took part in the demonstration and he threw a rock that hit a cop in the foot. Minimal injury at worst. This is really no big deal. In the US the defendant might spend one night in jail and then get a conditional discharge (release). Or he might plead guilty to disorderly conduct and have to pay a fine or do 5 days community service or do a few days in jail. Maybe, at worst, he would do 7, 10, or 15 days in jail. But to charge him with a high felony, facing years in jail, that is where the inequity lies, as you can understand.
We have a new American Ambassador here in Armenia, the first one in several years. We will continue to press for a fair criminal justice system.