An opposition leader in Armenia has asked the country’s prosecutor-general to subpoena ex-president Robert Kocharian for questioning over 2008 post-election violence that left 10 people dead.
In a Facebook post Yelk parliamentary faction leader Nikol Pashinian said that Kocharian must explain where from he got the information about gunshots fired by opposition supporters at security forces on March 1, 2008 that led to his ordering the use of force and introducing a state of emergency in Yerevan to quell the anti-government protests.
Pashinian’s application to the prosecutor-general comes less than two weeks after a senior ruling party lawmaker who led a parliamentary investigation into the deadly events years ago repeated questions once addressed to Kocharian over the matter.
“We say, dear second president, while substantiating the introduction of a state of emergency you stated, in particular, that [during the standoff with security forces] opposition members popped up from behind buses and fired [at police officers]. None of the injured police officers who were examined by forensic doctors had gunshot wounds. A question arises, Mr. President: where did you get that information on the basis of which you made decisions that could prove fateful for the course of the events,” Samvel Nikoyan, of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said during opposition-initiated parliamentary hearings on the 2008 post-election events on February 23.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) later Nikoyan made it clear that his remarks were not intended to put any blame on Kocharian, as it was construed by some media. He stressed that he simply repeated the questions that the ad hoc committee led by him once addressed to the ex-president as well as his predecessor, Levon-Petrosian, who was the leader of the opposition movement that held nonstop protests in Yerevan in 2008.
“The official position of the ad hoc committee on the second president was the following: his actions were fully in conformity with the Constitution and laws,” Nikoyan stressed.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday, Pashinian did not conceal that his move was conditioned by what he described as a new ‘impulse’ coming from the ruling party that he said now “also speaks about the need to get answers from the second president.”
No one has been charged over the 10 killings that were committed during the suppression of the protests on March 1-2, 2008. Opposition groups in Armenia continue to press the authorities to ensure a thorough investigation of the crimes and bring those responsible for the killings to justice.
Yelk, which initiated the hearings a few days before the 10th anniversary of the killings last month, had also pushed for a resolution to be passed by the National Assembly to condemn the use of lethal force against opposition protesters in Yerevan in the wake of the disputed 2008 presidential election.
The HHK-dominated standing committee on legal affairs gave a formal negative assessment of the document, but in a surprise move the parliament also controlled by the HHK and its coalition partner unanimously agreed on February 27 to include the draft resolution on its agenda.