Yengibaryan and Simonyan v. Armenia (Application no. 2186/12)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.


132. As to the circumstances of the use of force itself, there would appear to be a potentially significant discrepancy between the witnesses’ and the officers’ accounts of the distance between Mr Yengibaryan and A.A. at the time of the shooting (compare paragraphs 32 and 34 above with paragraphs 45 and 50 above). This may have had some bearing on whether the shot itself was proportionate to the risk then present. There further seems to have been no real discussion of whether the officers’ failure to recognise Mr Yengibaryan’s weapon as a gas pistol was reasonable in the circumstances. As a result, there remains a real lack of clarity about the precise circumstances in which the shots were fired.

133. On account of the failure of the investigator to explore all of the above issues, the Court is not persuaded that the investigation was capable of clarifying the facts so as to enable a determination of whether appropriate steps had been taken in order to minimise any risk to life and whether the force used was justified in the circumstances.

134. It is moreover apparent from the documents submitted and from the Government’s submissions that the applicants were not involved in the investigation, were not notified out its outcome and were not automatically entitled to see the decision terminating the criminal proceedings or consult the evidence file (see paragraphs 55-56, 65-69 and 74 above). The Government have not sought to deny that the investigation was not accessible to the applicants. Instead, they explained that this was because domestic law did not permit the next-of-kin to be involved unless and until it had been established that there was a “victim” unlawful act (see paragraph 114 above). However, the Court emphasises that Article 2 requires procedures applicable to the investigation of a death resulting from the use of force by the authorities to envisage the involvement of the next-of-kin (see the case-law quoted in paragraph 120 in fine above). In so far as this was not a possibility because of the way that the domestic law was framed (see paragraph 95 above), this is itself not compatible with the requirements of Article 2. It follows that the investigation was not accessible to the applicants to the extent necessary to safeguard their legitimate interests.

135.  These reasons are sufficient for the Court to conclude that there has been a violation of the procedural limb of Article 2 in the present case. It is therefore not necessary for the Court to examine whether the investigation was independent and impartial (see paragraphs 109 and 113 above).


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