The Decision of the the Criminal Court of Appeal on the Early Conditional Release of the Life Convict

On November 6 of 2018, the RA Criminal Court of Appeal made a decision to reject the appeal filed to the Yerevan First Instance Court of General Jurisdiction by Araks Melkonyan on the early conditional release of the life convict Yuri Sargsyan.

According to the RA Criminal Court of Appeal, by making a decision on the early conditional release of Yuri Sargsyan, the First Instance Court did not make a judicial error impacting the conclusion of the case and adopted the right judicial act in regard to which there are no legitimate grounds to overturn it and adopt a new judicial act for the early conditional release of Yuri Sargsyan.

Araks Melkonyan, the advocate of Yuri Sargsyan mentioned in the appeal, that the Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction has not carried out objective, comprehensive investigation to evaluate the conduct of Yuri Sargsyan during the serving of his sentence, as well as the probability of committing a new crime.

The Criminal Court of Appeal, highlighting the nature of the crimes committed by Yuri Sargsyan and the danger degree, the number of disciplinary violations, the circumstances describing the person, came to the conclusion, that “the factual circumstances of the cases do not give a ground to conclude, that Yuri Sargsyan does not need to serve the other part of his sentence and through the release from the serving of the sentence, Yuri Sargsyan will ensure the realization of the objective of Article 48 of the RA Criminal Code”.

According to the Court, during the serving of the punishment, Yuri Sargsyan demonstrated proper conduct and the probability of committing of a new crime by the latter is quite high. Particularly, according to the Criminal Court of Appeal, though there are certain factual circumstances, the conduct demonstrated by the convict during the punishment, as well as the other circumstances to evaluate the probability of committing new crime by the latter reaffirm the legitimacy of the above mentioned conclusion.

Nevertheless, according to Araks Melkonyan, the court does not mention proper justification regarding the early conditional release of Yuri Sargsyan.
The emphasize was made to the nature of the crimes committed by the latter, which is in fact essential, but the dangerousity of the person is changeable and it should be evaluated during the given moment, moreover, when it relates to the crimes committed 25 years ago.  The domestic courts made a linkage to the disciplinary sanctions applied against Yuri Sargsyan 6 years ago, the latter of which was before 2011. During the new 7 years, Yuri Sargsyan did not commit any disciplinary violation, which means that certain positive changes are visible in his conduct, which was not evaluated by the court, meanwhile, it is extremely important to notice the dynamics of the person’s behavior change.

The court’s conclusion regarding the probability of committing new crimes by Y. Sargsyan in future is uncertain and unjustified. Here, again the court did not assess the risks of a person and came to a conclusion, that the risk of committing of a new crime is very high. Meanwhile, Y. Sargsyan has reasonable possibilities to reintegrate: the latter has a family, chance to work, higher education, future plans, which are nor properly evaluated by the court.

Moreover, the institute of early conditional release assumes, that a person undergoes a number of obligation, which should be carried out during the probation period. In case of life sentenced, the probation period is 10 years, which is a quite long period for a person to self-actualization, reintegration and proof that he can fully be present in society. As for the breaking of the conditions and especially of committing a new crime, the early conditional releas of a person can be eliminated. As shown by the international practice, the number of double crimes during the long-term sentence and life sentences is very low.

It should be mentioned, that on April 13 of 2018, the First Instance Court made a decision to reject the appeal regarding the early conditional release of Yuri Sargsyan.

On May 5 of 2018, the decision made by the Yerevan Court of General Jurisdication was appealed to the RA Criminal Court of Appeal.