One day after an Armenian court allowed them to arrest former Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian, law-enforcement authorities shed some light on Thursday on their charges brought against him in connection with the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
The Special Investigative Service (SIS) indicted Kostanian on November 25 and gave him two days to return to Armenia and answer questions from its investigators. The SIS issued an arrest warrant for him after he ignored the demand. The court approved it on Wednesday.
In written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the SIS said Kostanian, who now lives in Moscow, is prosecuted on five counts of abuse of power, forgery and cover-up of “grave crimes.” It did not give further details.
The SIS signaled its intention to prosecute Kostanian in September when it charged a former chief of the Armenian police with helping the former authorities cover up a crackdown on opposition supporters who demonstrated in Yerevan in the wake of a disputed presidential election held in February 2008.
The SIS claimed that later in 2008 Kostanian and another aide to the newly elected Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian ordered senior police officers to destroy evidence of the “overthrow of the constitutional order” by Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian.
Kocharian is currently under arrest, standing trial, along with three other former officials, on coup charges. The former president rejects them as politically motivated.
Kostanian, who served as the country’s chief prosecutor from 2013-2016 deplored, the “artificial” hastiness of his indictment when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service by phone last week. He said he has repeatedly assured the investigators that he will return to Armenia after the end of the winter exam session at Russia’s state prosecutor academy where he works as a lecturer.
A lawyer for Kostanian, Hambardzum Melik-Sargsian, claimed that he planned on returning to Armenia this month before the SIS moved to arrest him. “Given that [court] decision, Mr. Kostanian will decide when to appear [before investigators,]” said Melik-Sargsian.
The lawyer also said that he will appeal against his client’s pre-trial arrest.