The trial of former President Robert Kocharian has still not resumed despite renewed hearings on the high-profile case ordered by Armenia’s Court of Appeals last week.
The court overturned on June 25 a lower tribunal’s May 18 decision to free Kocharian from prison and suspend his trial pending an important clarification requested by it from the Constitutional Court.
One of the ex-president’s lawyers, Hovannes Khudoyan, said on Friday that the trial remains on hold because the Court of Appeals has still not sent materials of the case back to a district court judge in Yerevan presiding over it.
“They think in the Court of Appeals that they should keep those materials until the deadline for appealing [against its decision] in the [higher] Court of Cassation expires and only then return them to the court of first instance,” Khudoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenians service. “They have no legal grounds for doing that. They must immediately send the case back to the court of first instance.”
Khudoyan claimed that the Court of Appeals may be deliberately dragging out the judicial process to make sure that Kocharian remains under arrest as long as possible. He said the lower court judge, Davit Grigorian, might again free the ex-president accused of usurping power in the final weeks of his 1998-2008 rule.
Grigorian cited a “suspicion of discrepancy” between the Armenian constitution and the coup charge when he appealed to the Constitutional Court. It is not clear whether the Court of Appeals ruling means that the Constitutional Court cannot pass judgment on the matter. The latter said on June 11 that it will decide by July 9 whether to throw out the judge’s appeal to start hearings and ultimately rule on it.
The coup charge stems from the March 2008 clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition supporters demanding the rerun of a disputed presidential election. Eight protesters and two police servicemen died as a result.
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.