Mher Yenokyan had been dreaming of becoming a lawyer since childhood" />

Armenia: First time a lifelong convict graduates with degree

Mher Yenokyan had been dreaming of becoming a lawyer since childhood

Photo: hetq.am

Mher Yenokyan has been in prison for 22 years and is serving a life-sentence. He has recently graduated as a lawyer, studying long-distance through the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University’s Faculty of Law. This is the first such case in Armenia and the post-Soviet space.

“At the age of 42 my childhood dream has came true and I have become a lawyer. It is ironic that I became a lawyer while being a prisoner,” Yenokyan said.

Yenokyan was sentenced to death when he was 20 years old for murdering a classmate. To this day, his family is fighting to prove his innocence. Yenokyan also claims that he is innocent. In 2003 the death sentence was changed in Armenia to life imprisonment as part of Armenia’s obligations to the Council of Europe.

Yenokyan’s graduation thesis is devoted to the situation he is in. It is entitled ‘A review of Sentences in Effect: Theoretical and Practical Problems’.

He has been trying since 1996 to get a second review of his case. The last time his appeal was rejected was just three months ago.

“There is no precedent in Armenia to reconsider a death sentence and to release or at least change the punishment. Does this mean that in Armenia courts have never endured erroneous death sentences? In the US and Europe those sentenced to death can be acquitted even 20-30 years later,” Yenokyan told reporters on the day of defending his thesis.

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