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Kocharian’s Trial Set For May 13


Armenia - President Robert Kocharian (R) and his senior adviser Armen Gevorgian at an election campaign rally in Yerevan, January 26, 2003.

The trial of Robert Kocharian and three other former senior officials prosecuted in connection with the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan will start on May 13, lawyers for Armenia’s ex-president said on Thursday.

Judicial authorities did not immediately confirm the date of what will be one of the most high-profile trials in Armenia’s history.

Kocharian, his former chief of staff Armen Gevorgian and retired army Generals Seyran Ohanian and Yuri Khachaturov stand accused of “overthrowing the constitutional order” in the wake of a disputed presidential election held in February 2008. Investigators say they illegally used Armenian army units against supporters of the main opposition presidential candidate who protested against alleged electoral fraud.

All four men deny the charges. Kocharian, the only suspect held in pre-trial detention, says that they are part of a political “vendetta” waged by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Pashinian was one of the main opposition speakers during the 2008 protests. He subsequently spent about two years in prison for organizing what the former Armenian authorities characterized as “mass disturbances.”

Eight protesters and two police servicemen were killed as security forces quelled those protests on March 1-2, 2008. Kocharian ordered army units into central Yerevan during the violence.

Khachaturov served as deputy defense minister while Ohanian was the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff at the time. Ohanian has repeatedly denied the army’s involvement in the post-election political processes.

Earlier this year, Kocharian was also charged with receiving a $3 million bribe from an Armenian businesswoman, Silva Hambardzumian. Prosecutors say that Hambardzumian also paid a separate $1 million kickback to Gevorgian. The latter became Armenia’s deputy prime minister after Kocharian handed over power to Serzh Sarkisian in April 2008.

Both Kocharian and Gevorgian deny the corruption accusations as well.

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