Armenia’s Supreme Court on December 12 pronounced sentence in the political trial of the "Group of 31," most of whom are associated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutiun and former volunteer detachments in the Karabakh war. One defendant was sentenced to death for murder; 29 were sentenced to prison terms of up to seven years, mainly on charges of calling for the violent overthrow of the government; one defendant was acquitted. A few of those sentenced were given prison terms of 28 months, equal to their pretrial detention; they were released in court. The most prominent among those sentenced are Dashnak leader Vahan Hovanessian (four years) and Manvel Eghiazarian (five years), commander of the Arabo paramilitary detachment which distinguished itself in the Karabakh war. (Noyan-Tapan, December 12-13)
The 31 were arrested in July and August of 1995 against a background of allegations by President Levon Ter-Petrosian that Dashnaksutiun as such was engaging in anti-state conspiracy and common crime. The authorities proceeded to suspend Dashnaksutiun’s activity; the ban remains in effect. The trial of the 31, which began in March 1996, took on aspects of a political show trial, and was widely criticized for legal and procedural violations. The outcome of the trial seems likely to trigger a political commotion in Armenia and the diaspora. A parallel case, that of the "Dro" group, also seems to be approaching a conclusion.
First Working Day in Kazakhstan’s New Capital.