Ex-Armenian presidential candidate jailed over attempted murder of rival
YEREVAN - Agence France-PresseA court in Armenia on Monday sentenced a former presidential candidate to 14 years in prison for masterminding a gun attack on one of his rivals during the run-up to leadership polls in February.
Vardan Sedrakyan -- an obscure figure with no political background -- was found guilty of "attempted murder of a government, political or social figure" in connection with the attack against presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan, the court said in a statement.
Two other men, who confessed to the attack, were jailed for 14 and 12 years, the court said.
Sedrakyan has denied the charges since his arrest in early March, and plans to appeal the verdict, his lawyers have said.
Armenia's incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian celebrated a crushing victory in February 18 elections that were undermined by the mysterious attempt to assassinate Hayrikyan, a Soviet-era dissident.
Hayrikyan, who heads the Union for National Self-Determination, was shot in the upper chest in central Yerevan as he was heading home on January 31.
Doubts over whether the vote would take place as scheduled were raised when Hayrikyan -- who is currently receiving treatment abroad -- asked authorities to postpone the poll by two weeks as Armenian law allows if a candidate is deemed to have suffered an insurmountable obstacle.
But he later withdrew his demand.
Observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said the election was an improvement on past polls but lacked real competition after two leading candidates pulled out late last year.
Neither Hayrikyan nor Sedrakyan -- who describes himself as a "specialist in epic poetry" -- managed double-digit scores.