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Kocharian Lawyers Insist On Public Trial


Lawyers of former Armenian President Robert Kocharian Aram Orbelian (center) and Hovhannes Khudoyan (right) at a press conference in Yerevan, August 7, 2019

Robert Kocharian’s lawyers insist that the former Armenian president charged with overthrowing the constitutional order in connection with the 2008 post-election crackdown on the opposition be tried in a public process.

The team of lawyers spoke about this at a press conference on Wednesday, also claiming that the investigation of the case is being “artificially dragged out” in order to keep their client in custody for as long as possible.

Kocharian was first arrested in July 2018 and was accused of ordering the military to get involved in quelling opposition-led demonstrations in the wake of a disputed 2008 presidential election. Armenia’s constitution stipulates that the army be used only to defend the country against an external aggression and does not allow it to be used in domestic affairs.

During the past year the ex-president was twice released on bail, but both times prosecutors appealed the rulings at higher courts and the rulings were overturned, with Kocharian returned to prison.

Kocharian denies the charges and claims the case against him is politically motivated.

Aram Orbelian, one of Kocharian’s lawyers, told reporters today that his client “has in fact been imprisoned indefinitely without being able to appeal the decision on his detention.”

“It’s been almost a month and a half that there is no development in the case, no process is taking place, which is obviously a gross violation of human rights under the Armenian Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In other words, a person cannot be imprisoned indefinitely without any judicial oversight,” said Orbelian.

According to the lawyer, in addition to their seven petitions to the European Court of Human Rights, they are also considering the possibility of applying to the UN Human Rights Committee and taking further steps domestically.

Lawyer Hovhannes Khudoyan stressed that Kocharian’s defense team demands that their client’s rights be honored and the public trial be continued.

“We insist on a public trial, regardless of the presence of the judge and the prosecution’s participation,” the lawyer said, without elaborating.

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