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Sarkisian Denies Testifying Against Kocharian


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (R) and his predecessor Robert Kocharian at an official ceremony outside Yerevan, 01Dec2008.

Former President Serzh Sarkisian insisted through a lawyer on Friday that he has not testified against his predecessor and former ally Robert Kocharian in the ongoing criminal investigation into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

Sarkisian was reportedly twice questioned by Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) this month. The law-enforcement body has refused to comment on that so far.

Sarkisian’s lawyer, Amram Makinian, confirmed that his client has been interrogated as a witness. But he refused to give any details, citing “the secrecy of the investigation” conducted by the SIS.

“I can only address claims circulated in the media to the effect that Serzh Sarkisian gave incriminating testimony against Robert Kocharian,” Makinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I categorically deny them. They are absolutely false and untrue. Mr. Sarkisian has not given such testimony.”

The SIS has charged Kocharian and three retired army generals with overthrowing the constitutional order in the wake of a disputed presidential election held in February 2008. The vote formalized the handover of power from Kocharian to Sarkisian, his preferred successor.

The main opposition presidential candidate, Levon Ter-Petrosian, rejected the official election results as fraudulent, staging nonstop demonstrations that were broken up on March 1-2, 2008. Eight protesters and two policemen were killed in streets clashes in Yerevan on that night.

The SIS blamed the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition for the violence until last spring’s “velvet revolution” which brought Nikol Pashinian to power. It now says that Kocharian illegally used army units against the protesters in order to enforce the vote results.

Kocharian, who denies the accusations as politically motivated, was arrested in December. Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenian strongly condemned the arrest, saying that Prime Minister Pashinian is exacting “personal revenge” against the man who ruled the county from 1998-2008.

Makinian would not say whether he thinks Sarkisian, who lost power as result of the “velvet revolution,” could also be charged by the SIS. “We can only talk with factual information: Mr. Sarkisian has the legal status of a witness,” he said.

Asked whether the ex-president feels that he too is responsible for the 2008 bloodshed, the lawyer said: “You are not asking a correct question.”

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