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Armenia jails opposition leader Zhirair Safilyan over hostage siege

A Yerevan court found Zhirair Safilyan guilty of planning the attack in which 20 anti-government gunmen took over a police station in the capital in July 2016.

Published: 20th March 2018 06:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2018 06:27 PM   |  A+A-

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Image used for representational purpose

By AFP

YEREVAN: Armenia on Tuesday sentenced an opposition politician to 10.5 years in prison for organising a deadly police station siege that shook the ex-Soviet nation in 2016.

A Yerevan court found Zhirair Safilyan guilty of planning the attack in which 20 anti-government gunmen took over a police station in the capital in July 2016, killing two officers and taking several others hostage.

The gunmen had demanded President Serzh Sarkisian's resignation.

They surrendered following a two-week standoff after police warned they would storm the building to end the crisis, which had sparked at times violent demonstrations by opposition supporters.

Police used truncheons, stun grenades and smoke bombs to disperse opposition protesters, injuring more than 70 people, including journalists. 

Six of the gunmen have previously been given jail terms of up to five and a half years.

The armed group, "Sasna Tsrer", comprised supporters of Safilyan, who was at the time was held in custody on suspicion of preparing to seize government buildings and telecoms facilities.

He was later freed but re-arrested soon afterwards.

A former military officer, Serzh Sarkisian has been in charge of the landlocked South Caucasus nation of 2.9 million since an election in 2008. 
 



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