Domestic violence should be considered in the context of public prosecution
12.05.2014
11:00
The case of 54 year old Siranush Aghabekyan, who was knifed by her husband, can be of a strategic value and set a legal precedence for other cases on victims of domestic violence.

On January 1, 2014, Siranush’s husband-Levon Aghabekyan, has intentionally set their jointly owned apartment on fire. It should be noted that he was released from the court hall only 20 days before and faced charges for assaulting and knifing his wife- Siranush Aghabekyan.

On her son’s request Siranush had agreed to forgive her husband in the court, which was used as grounds for dismissing the case and suspending criminal charges. Following the arson of the apartment, Siranush appealed to the Appeal Court on the knifing case, but once again the case was discontinued.  

The precedent may emerge if the Court of Cassation considers that Aghabekyan’s case should be examined in the contest of public charges rather than an individual one, since there exist elements of danger for public. In this case the defendant should be tried even in case the motion was recalled thinks Tigran Muradyan, the lawyer representing Siranush Aghabekyan, the victim of domestic violence. He presented his opinion during the press conference held today at the Media Center.

Press conference speakers included: Siranush Aghabekyan, Lida Minasyan, coordinator of the Violence Free Society NGO program and Tigran Muradyan, lawyer.

The speakers noted that the police position is an actual issue on the agenda of domestic violence cases.

“When the wife goes to the police, they [edt.  the police] immediately try to reach reconciliation, which often results in negative consequencs,” says Lida Minasyan, coordinator of the Violence Free Society NGO program. “Siranush Aghabekyan’s case is such an example, when after yet another incidence of violence the police convinced Siranush to take back the testimony against her husband. Sometime later the husband had knifed her.”

The speakers alleged that the police did not consider arson sufficient grounds for starting a criminal case against Siranush Aghabekyan’s husband, since they considered that he could treat his property in any manner he found fit.   

“The police does not take into account the fact that Siranush Aghabekyan is the co-owner of the burnt down appartement and that the property belonging to her was destroyed in the fire. The title certificate provides evidence to their joint ownership of the apartment,” says lawyer Tigran Muradyan pointing out to the police inaction. He believes that the police actions in this particular case were not compliant with the law.  

Siranush Aghabekyan believes that her husband’s actions are caused by his alchohol addiction and that following the knifing incident her husband was recognized sane. “I will no longer live with him, I will not forgive him,” said Siranush. On May 21 the court session will hear Aghababyans’ divorce case. Meanwhile, following the arson, the family has no place of permanent residence. “We have no place to live. He has broken the entrance door and set the house on fire. My child is frightened; I cannot leave him on his own and go to work.”

“The husband is free and continues using alcohol. There is always the threat that he can harm Siranush and the children,” says Lida Minasyan, who insists that there should be legislation on domestic violence.

Lawyer Tigran Muradyan will submit a Cassation appeal on the knifing assault case, while it is also possible that police inaction in case of the house arson will also be appealed in court.:

According to the data provided by the rapid response group of the Violence Free Socieity NGO- 40 cases of domestic violence ocurred from 2012 to date, of which 16 were murders, 20 physical violence cases, 2 cases of psychological and 2 cases of sexual violence.

According to the date published by the Police there were 750 cases of domestic violence in 2012, of which 621 were committed against women. The number of cases in 2013 is 500.

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