According to the SIS, the police officers who broke into journalist Arpi Makhsudyan’s apartment acted lawfully12:13, July 7, 2017 | News, Own news | Right to Respect for Private and Family Life
The RA Special Investigative Service saw no elements of crime in the actions of the police officers who broke into journalist Arpi Makhsudyan’s apartment. This is stated in the RA SIS’s decision on the crime report of June 26, 2017.
Note that the police officers entered the journalist’s house on May 11, 2017 at about 7:30 am against the will of her family members and tried to search it. After the residents of the house found out that the police officers had no permission for search, they demanded that the latter left the apartment. Then there was a tense atmosphere as the police officers threatened to take A. Makhsudyan’s father-in-law to the police station, intimidated her family members and left by uttering threats only when the journalist tried to call a lawyer.
As we reported before, the police officers justified their actions by searching for a wanted person.
And the justification was that he used WiFi located in that apartment. Both during their stay in the apartment and later the police officers denied any intention to search the apartment and justified their actions by the fact that they might see the wanted person in the apartment or feel from the conversation with the family members whether he was there, without any search.
It should be added that several days ago, A. Makhsudyan was declared victim under the initiated criminal case upon the motion of her defense attorney Ani Chatinyan, lawyer at HCA Vanadzor.
The decision on suspending the criminal proceedings makes it clear that the body responsible for the proceedings did not examine the fact that the use by the strangers of the Internet from journalist A. Makhsudyan’s apartment without her knowledge might threaten the security of journalistic sources, the journalist’s private conversations and correspondence, which interfered with her private and family life. And the investigation was one-sided with preference to the testimonies of the police officers.
Also, the investigation excluded the fact that anyone might use the WiFi located in the apartment without the knowledge of its owners, whereas one needs elementary knowledge to understand that the coverage area of the device may cover not only the apartment where it is located but also the adjacent areas and anyone may use the internet outside the apartment just by “breaking” the password.
By the way, the Makhsudyans said that their neighbor also accessed their Internet.
The RA Special Investigative Service justified the actions of the police officers by the RA Government’s Decree 857-NG of May 26, 2011 establishing the procedure for intelligence activities by the RA Police and then referred to the RA Laws on Police and on Rapid-Response Intelligence Activities by denying the purpose of the search.
Note that Article 19 of the Law on Police referred to by the body responsible for the proceedings states that police officers “shall have the right to demand and receive from citizens, officials and organizations necessary explanations, data, references, documents and/or copies thereof.”
As we can see, the Law does not provide for any mandatory condition of entering into the apartment; moreover, it considers mandatory the procedure and grounds prescribed by law which the police officers did not have in this case.
And Article 14 of the RA Law on Rapid-Response Intelligence Activities, also referred to in the decision, sets out the procedure for rapid-response inquiries and acquisition of rapid-response information, and again there is no mention of the need to obtain information in a person’s apartment.
In this case, the body responsible for the proceedings did not consider the obtained evidence sufficient to consider existence of the elements of crime and added that: “[…] all the possibilities for obtaining any new evidence have been exhausted and given this, the actions [of the police officers] contain no elements of crime under Article 309(1) of the RA Criminal Code.”
At the same time, the body responsible for the proceedings excluded any intention by Arpi Makhsudyan and her father-in-law to “prosecute innocent persons” and saw in their action no element of crime of slur as well.
Thus, the examination of the case gave no legal assessment to the justification of entering the Makhsudyans’ apartment and abuse of power by the police officers. In other words, the investigation was just formal in nature and did not aim to identify and prosecute the offenders.
Arpi Makhsudyan’s representative, Ani Chatinyan, lawyer at HCA Vanadzor, had already appealed based on the said grounds the decision on discontinuing the criminal case.