Saturday, March 27, 2004


March 25, 2004

As the Martuni district court handed down the sentence to 3 convicted thieves for stealing 503 kilos of wheat, the victim was surprised and pled with the judge saying, “Your honor, I feel that these men have already suffered enough. They have paid me back for what they have stolen and I have never heard anything bad about them before this…”

On October of 2003, the 3 family men had on two occasions stolen wheat from the victim in all 11 sacks of wheat totaling 503 kilos, which they divided among themselves. For this, they sat in jail for 3 months until trial, at which time the prosecutor read off the charges of premeditated theft, working as a criminal group and a number of other charges that allowed a total sentence of 2 years in prison.

Of the 3 men, one had once been convicted of theft and the other two had never before been charged with any crimes, were both said to be well educated and driven to commit this crime by a need to provide for their families.

The question now comes as to if the sentence was too harsh, or was there a need to make an example of these men so others living under similar conditions would think twice before committing such a crime?

Of course when following the law, these men had what was coming to them. On the other hand, if these men were driven by economic hardship and a need to feed their children, then could the court have found room for leniency, taking into consideration that they had repaid the victim for his loss (paying 200 dram a kilo, which is higher than the current market value)?

Then the question also should be asked as to what effect incarceration will have on the men and their families? Who will provide for the collective 9 children and 3 wives for the next 21 months (the balance of their sentence)?

Though it’s not fair or right to compare this crime with other crimes, there was a case of the Prosecutor General’s son who ran over and killed not one, but I believe 2 people and never even had to set foot in a police station or even had charges filed against him.

And the case of a Armenian-Georgian, who was murdered by President Kocharian’s security staff and only one person faced criminal charges and in the end was let off without spending time in jail.

And then there is the case of the “victim” who the 3 men stole 503 kilos of wheat from to presumably feed their children and his being arrested in 1995 for stealing truck loads of supplies from an army base in Artsakh where he was the keeper of, which later part of said supplies were recovered from his home. He got off after fleeing to Russia and the commander of that base arranged to have the case dropped.

The same “victim” who the 503 kilos were stolen from was again arrested a few years ago when he struck a man who he broke his jaw after the man whose jaw was broken by the “victim” had complained about the “victim’s” wife who is a pediatrician and had incorrectly medicated the man’s daughter, causing a permanent loss of her speech. Instead of going to jail for 8 years, he was given probation. It should also be noted that the “victim” at that time was the brother-in-law of the Martuni Regional Minister.

So you see, the way the law works here is based not always on the law, but on who you know and how much you have to pay your way out of trouble.

I can tell you right now that if the 3 men were able to come up with a few hundred dollars, they could have paid their way out of jail, but seeing that they had to steal wheat to feed their children, it’s clear that they don’t have access to such a luxury.

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