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Lawyers Boycott Kocharian Trial Over ‘Threat’


Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian (second from right) and his lawyers attend a court hearing in Yerevan, January 9, 2020.

Citing an alleged death threat, defense lawyers boycotted on Tuesday a court hearing in the trial of the former President Robert Kocharian and three other men prosecuted on coup charges denied by them.

The lawyers representing Kocharian and his former chief of staff, Armen Gevorgian, protested against what they see as the court’s failure to properly respond to the father of one of the eight opposition protesters killed during the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

The elderly man, Edik Harutiunian, demanded in the courtroom on January 9 that the defendants and their lawyers “respect” the unrest victims. “Or else, they’ll find themselves in our situation,” he declared without elaborating.

The defense lawyers portrayed the remark as a grave threat addressed to them and demanded that the presiding judge, Anna Danibekian, take action against Harutiunian. Danibekian refused to do that.

Opening the latest hearing, Danibekian asked Harutiunian to clarify his remark. “I did not voice threats,” insisted the victim’s father. “I just said that if they want to insult us they will end up in our situation. That is, we too can insult.”

The judge went on to adjourn the hearing. She said the high-profile trial will resume on February 4.

The previous court session was boycotted by a lawyer representing Yuri Khachaturov, Armenia’s former top army general, for the same reason. Danibekian took disciplinary action against the attorney, Mihran Poghosian, on Tuesday.

Poghosian defended his and his colleagues’ actions. He said they did not offend any other participant of the trial.

Meanwhile, one of the trial prosecutors, Petros Petrosian, said that the boycotts are part of the defendants’ efforts to “artificially drag out the trial.” Poghosian denied that claim as well.

Kocharian, Gevorgian, Khachaturov and former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian stand accused of illegally using on March 1-2, 2008 Armenian army units against opposition supporters who demanded the rerun of a disputed presidential election. Prosecutors say that amounted to an “overthrow of the constitutional order.”

Kocharian, who is held in detention unlike the other defendants, was also charged with bribery a year ago. He rejects all accusations leveled against him as politically motivated.

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