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Prosecutors Insist On Kocharian’s Renewed Arrest


Armenia -- The Court of Appeals holds a hearing on the criminal case against former President Robert Kocharian, Yerevan, June 19, 2019.

Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian on Wednesday urged Armenia’s Court of Appeals to allow investigators to again arrest former President Robert Kocharian accused of overthrowing the constitutional order while in power.

Davtian also condemned as “illegal and unfounded” a lower court’s May 18 decision to release Kocharian from custody pending the outcome of his trial. He said the ex-president could obstruct the trial and a continuing separate investigation into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

“We believe that that decision must be overturned,” Davtian said during a court hearing.

The district court in Yerevan also decided last month to suspend the trial and request an important clarification from the Constitutional Court. It cited a “suspicion of discrepancy” between the Armenian constitution and coup charges brought against Kocharian.

The prosecutors appealed against both decisions denounced by many supporters of the current Armenian government.

The Court of Appeals opened hearings on the matter on June 12. Kocharian’s lawyers have since repeatedly demanded that the presiding judge, Armen Danielian, recuse himself from the high-profile case. They say that he is notorious for siding with law-enforcement agencies.

A lawyer representing the families of anti-government protesters killed in Yerevan in March 2008 also demanded last week that the case be assigned to another Court of Appeals judge. Danielian has rejected those demands.

Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian talks to his lawyers during a Court of Appeals hearing, Yerevan, June 14, 2019.
Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian talks to his lawyers during a Court of Appeals hearing, Yerevan, June 14, 2019.

Davtian on Wednesday also accused Kocharian of threatening Danielian last week. The chief prosecutor seemed to refer to the ex-president’s remark that the judge must refrain from dealing with the case because all officials involved in it will eventually be “held accountable for their deeds.”

The coup charges stem from the March 2008 clashes between security forces and opposition supporters demanding the rerun of a disputed presidential election. The violence broke out less than two months before Kocharian completed his second presidential term and handed over power to Serzh Sarkisian, his preferred successor.

Earlier this year, Kocharian was also charged with bribe-taking. He denies all accusations leveled against him as politically motivated.

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