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Judicial Official Expects ‘Legal’ Rulings From Constitutional Court


Armenia -- Ruben Vartazarian, head of the Supreme Judicial Council, holds a news conference in Yerevan, September 4, 2019.

The head of a state body overseeing Armenia’s judiciary said on Wednesday that the Constitutional Court will deal with the criminal case against former President Robert Kocharian in a way defined by the law.

“The issue will find a solution on the legal plane and on the plane of correct formulation of issues,” Ruben Vartazarian, the chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, told a news conference.

Vartazarian spoke hours before the Constitutional Court ruled on one of the appeals lodged by Kocharian against his arrest and prosecution on charges stemming from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

One of the court’s nine judges, Vahe Grigorian, demanded last week that three of his colleagues, including the court’s chairman, Hrayr Tovmasian, recuse themselves from the case. Grigorian said that they cannot be impartial and objective because of having been previously involved in controversial decisions relating to the 2008 unrest case.

Grigorian himself was excluded from the consideration of Kocharian’s appeal in July. Tovmasian argued that he has represented relatives of the eight protesters killed in March 2008 in other courts.

The relatives’ current lawyer, Tigran Yegorian, backed Grigorian’s demand before it was effectively rejected by Armenia’s highest court. Yegorian said failure to accept it would mean that Constitutional Court rulings on the case are illegitimate and can be ignored by other courts and law-enforcement bodies.

Vartazarian declined to say whether he agrees with Yegorian’s claims. He suggested only that a district court judge who will resume Kocharian’s trial on September 12 might “take Tigran Yegorian’s opinion into account.”

“I have neither the right nor the desire to say what [judge] Anna Danibekian should do,” added the head of the judicial watchdog.

Vartazarian also said that both the Armenian authorities and Kocharian’s allies are “making attempts” to put pressure on the courts dealing with the high-profile case. He pointed to rival protests staged by the ex-president’s backers and detractors outside the Constitutional Court building in Yerevan.

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