A district court judge in Yerevan reportedly suggested on Friday that law-enforcement authorities may have launched criminal proceedings against him in response to his handling of former President Robert Kocharian’s trial.
The judge, Davit Grigorian, controversially ordered Kocharian released from prison on May 18 pending the outcome of the trial. He also decided to suspend the trial, questioning the legality of coup charges brought against the ex-president.
Prosecutors appealed against both decisions strongly condemned by political allies and supporters of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. Armenia’s Court of Appeals overturned them on June 25.
Grigorian’s office was searched and sealed on Tuesday as part of an inquiry conducted by Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS). SIS officers also confiscated his computer during the raid.
Grigorian visited on Friday the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to discuss the raid with members of the state body overseeing Armenian courts. He declined to answer journalists’ questions both before and after the meeting.
“We met with him and discussed his concerns,” said Grigor Bekmezian, an SJC member. “We asked questions preoccupying us with regard to both his and our concerns.”
In Bekmezian’s words, Grigorian “voiced his suspicions” that the search conducted in his office was connected to the high-profile case against Kocharian. “We are now going to appeal to the prosecutor supervising the case and get a number of clarifications from him as well, as a result of which we will formulate our final position and make a statement,” he told reporters.
The SCJ chairman, Ruben Vartazarian, said, for his part, that he believes the SIS has so far not obstructed the work of the judge.
In a statement released earlier on Friday, Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General strongly denied any connection between the Kocharian case and the raid on Grigorian’s office. It also gave some details of the criminal investigation launched by the SIS.
The statement explained that in February an Armenian citizen lodged a complaint against Grigorian accusing the judge of committing forgery. Both the SIS and a prosecutor overseeing the law-enforcement body refused to launch a formal inquiry at the time.
The statement revealed that in May the unnamed citizen appealed to Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian and presented “more substantiated arguments” in support of the allegations. Davtian, it said, decided to open a criminal case against the judge on June 28, there days after Kocharian was arrested again.
Kocharian’s trial has still not resumed apparently because the Court of Appeals has yet to send materials of the case back to Grigorian.
Kocharian’s lawyers have 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 have said Grigorian might again free their client accused of usurping power in the final weeks of his 1998-2008 rule.
Kocharian denies this and other charges brought against him, saying that they are part of the current authorities’ political “vendetta” against him. The authorities deny any political motives behind his prosecution.