The head of an Armenian law-enforcement agency investigating the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan denied on Thursday any political motives behind its decision to arrest and prosecute former President Robert Kocharian.
“Our indictment is so clear and well-founded that I find incomprehensible and even ridiculous manipulations which [Kocharian’s] defense lawyers are trying to make,” Sasun Khachatrian told reporters.
“Robert Kocharian is accused of violently overthrowing the constitutional order,” said the head of the Special Investigative Service (SIS). “The accusation is based on the army’s involvement [in the 2008 unrest.] The involvement of the armed forces is prohibited by both the current and previous versions of the constitution.”
Khachatrian also said that the SIS investigators arrested Kocharian in order to avert his possible “illegal influence” on other suspects and witnesses in the case.
Kocharian rejected the charges as politically motivated on July 26 one day before a court in Yerevan allowed his arrest. He claimed that they are part of a “vendetta” waged against him by Armenia’s new government headed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
Pashinian was the main speaker at an opposition rally that was held in Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008. Eight protesters and two police officers were killed during the breakup of that rally ordered by then President Kocharian. The latter also declared a state of emergency and ordered Armenian army units into the capital.
Like other associates of Levon Ter-Petrosian, the main opposition candidate in the 2008 presidential election, Pashinian was subsequently tried and imprisoned for organizing “mass disturbances.” He denied the accusations as politically motivated.
Kocharian’s lawyers appealed against his pre-trial arrest on Wednesday. They say that the SIS did not present any compelling evidence to the district court.