A court in Yerevan has thrown out an opposition lawsuit claiming that the Armenian authorities quashed opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s 2008 post-election demonstrations in violation of the country’s constitution and laws.
Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) took the legal action last month, invoking an article of the Administrative Code that deals with civil rights. It challenged the legality of government decisions that led to the deadly break-up on March 1-2, 2008 of non-stop street protests staged in the wake of a disputed presidential election. Those include the imposition of a state of emergency in Yerevan and the use of the Armenian army in the crackdown that left ten people dead and more than 200 others injured.
According to Gagik Jahangirian, an HAK leader coordinating the initiative, Armenia’s Administrative Court refused to consider the suit, signed by more than 100 opposition supporters, on the grounds that the plaintiffs “misinterpreted” the Administrative Code. He said the opposition bloc will challenge the decision at the Court of Appeals.
“The authorities lacked the audacity to allow a court controlled by them to publicly consider the legality of the actions taken by state security bodies,” Jahangirian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Monday. “They were afraid of taking up the case because a public consideration of the matter would be a deadly threat to them.”
The Armenian authorities have said all along that the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition attempted a coup d’etat in February-March 2008 and that the use of lethal force against and mass arrests of his loyalists was therefore justified.
The HAK insists, however, that President Serzh Sarkisian and his predecessor Robert Kocharian themselves usurped power by enforcing the results of what it sees as a fraudulent election.