Armenia’s Constitutional Court said on Thursday that the Council Europe’s Venice Commission has agreed to advise it on the legality of coup charges brought against former President Robert Kocharian.
Kocharian was charged last year under Article 300.1of the Armenian Criminal Code dealing with violent seizure of power. The accusation stems from the 2008 post-election street clashes in Yerevan which left ten people dead.
In separate appeals, Kocharian and a district court judge in Yerevan asked the Constitutional Court earlier this year to determine whether the Criminal Code clause conforms to the Armenian constitution. The high court agreed to hold hearings and rule on the appeals.
The court decided in July to ask the Venice Commission and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for an “advisory opinion” on the issue. It therefore suspended the consideration of the appeals pending formal responses from the two Strasbourg-based bodies.
In a short statement, the Constitutional Court said that the Venice Commission’s secretary, Thomas Markert, has notified its chairman, Hrayr Tovmasian, that the Council of Europe body is “prepared to provide an advisory opinion.”
It is not yet clear when the commission’s recommendations could be sent to Yerevan. The ECHR has also not indicated any dates for the possible release of its opinion on the Kocharian case.
The Constitutional Court’s decision to appeal to Strasbourg was announced one day after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian launched a scathing attack on Tovmasian. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Pashinian accused him of cutting political deals with former President Serzh Sarkisian to “privatize” Armenia’s highest court. Tovmasian rebutted the attack, warning the government against trying to force him and his colleagues to resign.