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Kocharian Trial Judge Tight-Lipped About Office Raid


Armenia -- Judge Davit Grigorian orders former President Robert Kocharian's release from custody, Yerevan, May 18, 2019.

A Yerevan judge presiding over the suspended trial of former President Robert Kocharian refused on Thursday to clarify why his office was searched and sealed by law-enforcement authorities earlier this week.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Davit Grigorian only confirmed that officers of the Special Investigative Service (SIS) confiscated his computer during Tuesday’s raid.

“I don’t want to talk about that now. I will express my position later on,” Grigorian said when asked about what he is accused or suspected of.

Nor would he say if he sees a connection between the search and his handling of the high-profile trial.

The SIS said on Wednesday that Grigorian’s office was searched as part of an ongoing criminal investigation conducted by it. A spokeswoman for the law-enforcement agency did not give any details of that probe or say whether the judge could be prosecuted.

Grigorian ordered Kocharian freed from custody on May 18 five days after the latter went on trial on charges mostly stemming from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan. The judge also decided to suspend the trial, questioning the legality of the coup charges and asked the Constitutional Court to pass judgment on them.

The decisions angered political allies and supporters of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.Heeding Pashinian’s calls, hundreds of them blocked the entrances to court buildings across Armenia’s on May 20. Pashinian demanded a mandatory “vetting” of all Armenian judges, saying that many of them remain linked to the country’s “corrupt” former leadership.

Kocharian was arrested again on June 25 hours after Armenia’s Court of Appeals overturned Grigorian’s decisions. His trial has still not resumed, however, because the Court of Appeals has yet to send materials of the case back to the lower court.

Earlier this month, Kocharian’s lawyers accused the Court of Appeals of deliberately dragging out the judicial process to make sure the ex-president remains under arrest as long as possible. They said Grigorian might again free the ex-president accused of usurping power in the final weeks of his 1998-2008 rule.

It also emerged this week that in March a Yerevan resident asked the SIS to launch criminal proceedings against Grigorian. The citizen’s lawyer, Garik Malkhasian, refused on Thursday to specify his client’s allegations against the judge. He also could not say whether the search conducted in Grigorian’s office is connected with them.

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