Armenia’s Court of Appeals upheld on Thursday a lower court’s decision to allow law-enforcement authorities to keep holding former President Robert Kocharian in detention pending investigation into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
A district court in the Armenian capital extended his pre-trial arrest by two more months on March 15. Kocharian appealed against that ruling.
The ex-president testified at hearings on his appeal. He was also present in the courtroom when the Court of Appeals rejected it.
One of Kocharian’s lawyers, Hayk Alumian, denounced the decision, saying that it was dictated by the Special Investigative Service (SIS), a law-enforcement body conducting a long-running inquiry into the 2008 violence. “Our courts allow arrests regardless of what materials there are and there aren’t in a criminal case,” he said.
Kocharian as well as three retired army generals stand accused of overthrowing the constitutional order in the wake of a disputed presidential election held in February 2008, less than two months before he completed his second and final presidential term. The SIS says that they illegally used the armed forces against opposition supporters who demonstrated against alleged electoral fraud.
Eight protesters and two police servicemen were killed in street clashes that broke out late on March 1, 2008. Kocharian declared a state of emergency in the Armenian capital on that night.
All four men deny the charges. Kocharian, who was also charged with bribery last month, has accused the current authorities and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in particular of waging a political “vendetta” against him. Pashinian, who was one of the main opposition speakers during the February-March 2008 protests, has dismissed the ex-president’s claims.