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Trial Judge Denies Bias Against Kocharian


Armenia -- Judge Anna Danibekian presides over the trial of former President Robert Kocharian and three other former officials, Yerevan, October 7, 2019.

The judge presiding over the trial of Robert Kocharian dismissed on Monday his lawyers’ claims that she is biased against the Armenia’s arrested former president and must therefore recuse herself from the case.

The lawyers voiced the demands after the district court judge, Anna Danibekian, twice refused to release Kocharian from custody last month.

Danibekian took over the trial from another judge, Davit Grigorian, who ordered Kocharian’s release in May. Grigorian was controversially charged with forgery and suspended in July.

The lawyers petitioned Danibekian to free Kocharian and drop coup charges brought against him after Armenia’s Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional on September 4 a legal provision used by investigators against their client. Danibekian ruled on September 17 that the Constitutional Court’s decision does not apply to the former president. Three days later she also refused to grant him bail.

“You have a negative biased attitude towards Kocharian,” one of the defense lawyers, Hayk Alumian, told Danibekian on Monday.

Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian (R) talks to his lawyer Hayk Alumian during his trial, Yerevan, October 7, 2019.
Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian (R) talks to his lawyer Hayk Alumian during his trial, Yerevan, October 7, 2019.


Alumian accused her of deliberately and illegally delaying decisions on petitions submitted by Kocharian’s legal team in August. He also alleged serious procedural violations in judicial authorities’ decision to assign the case to Danibekian. They knew that she will not rule in the ex-president’s favor, claimed Alumian and other defense lawyers.

The trial prosecutors defended the judge, saying that she is impartial and did not breach any laws or legal procedures. After a short deliberation, Danibekian rejected the lawyers’ latest demands.

The coup charges leveled against Kocharian and three other former senior Armenian officials stem from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan which left eight opposition protesters and two police personnel dead. The prosecutors say that Kocharian illegally used Armenian army units against protesters demanding the rerun of a disputed presidential election. They also accuse him of large-scale bribery.

Kocharian, who ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, rejects the accusations as politically motivated. The three other defendants also deny any wrongdoing.

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