Armenia’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has allowed the prosecution of a judge who presided over the trial of former President Robert Kocharian and released him on bail in May, it emerged over the weekend.
By upholding the relevant petition from the Prosecutor-General’s Office in relation to Davit Grigorian, the oversight body also suspended the powers of the judge pending the investigation.
SJC member Hayk Hovannisian told RFE/RL Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that prosecutors had requested permission for criminal proceedings on three counts, but were allowed to investigate only two. The SJC did not disclose details of the case.
No formal proceedings have been launched yet and the judge is not in the status of either a suspect or an accused person, prosecutors said. Grigorian is currently on vacation.
Earlier, the Prosecutor-General’s Office insisted that actions against the judge were not related to the trial of Kocharian. In a statement explaining a recent search in Grigorian’s office conducted by the Special Investigation Service it said that investigators were looking for evidence of official forgery related to “circumstances of a different case that was reported by a citizen still in February.”
On May 18, district court judge Grigorian controversially ordered Kocharian released from prison pending the outcome of the trial. He also decided to suspend the trial, questioning the legality of coup charges brought against the ex-president and referring the case to the Constitutional Court.
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, which led to the re-arrest of Kocharian.
Earlier, Grigorian “voiced suspicions” that the search conducted in his office was connected to the high-profile case against Kocharian. His lawyer Gevork Melikian also insisted that the actions of the investigation body have contained illegalities. In particular, according to the lawyer, the judge should have been informed about the planned search of his office.
Supporters of Kocharian and other critics of the current government also claim that actions of the law-enforcement agencies put pressure on the judiciary and undermine its independence.