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New Charge Brought Against Kocharian


Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian gives an interview to Yerkir Media TV, Yerevan, 16Aug2018

Robert Kocharian, a former Armenian president arrested in December on coup charges, has also been accused of corruption, it emerged on Tuesday.

In a short statement, Kocharian’s lawyers said the Special Investigative Service (SIS) has alleged that Kocharian accepted a large bribe while in power. The law-enforcement agency confirmed the information but did not comment further.

One of the lawyers, Aram Orbelian, said the Kocharian is accused of having been bribed by a wealthy businesswoman, Silva Hambardzumian. “I don’t have any additional information or have seen any evidence,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

“The allegation is a lie, we don’t accept it,” added Orbelian.

Citing Kocharian’s legal team, some Armenian media outlets said Hambardzumian claimed to have paid the bribe to the ex-president in a written statement to the SIS.

Late last year, Hambardzumian claimed that she paid former Environment Minister Aram Harutiunian $14 million in bribes in 2008. The SIS brought a corresponding corruption charge against Harutiunian in January.

Kocharian was charged in July with overthrowing the constitutional order in the wake of a disputed presidential election held in Armenia in 2008. He strongly denies the accusation stemming from the deadly breakup of post-election opposition protests staged in Yerevan.

The 64-year-old spent three weeks in pretrial detention this summer before being again arrested on December 7. Armenia’s Court of Appeals last week upheld a low court’s decision to allow the SIS to keep him in custody.

Another law-enforcement body, the National Security Service (NSS), launched a corruption inquiry into Kocharian in September. The NSS chief, Artur Vanetsian, revealed in December that Kocharian’s elder son Sedrak has been questioned as a witness in that probe. Vanetsian refused to give any details.

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