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Kocharian Again Hospitalized


Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian attends hearins at the Court of Appeals, Yerevan, December 9, 2019.

Armenia’s jailed former President Robert Kocharian was on Tuesday taken to a hospital in Yerevan where he underwent surgery in October.

One of his lawyers, Hovannes Khudoyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Kocharian will have a “post-operative checkup” at the Izmirlian Medical Center. Khudoyan did not give other details.

Earlier this spring, Kocharian spent more than three weeks at another Yerevan hospital after complaining of blood pressure fluctuations. He was sent back to prison on April 3.

Kocharian’s lawyers have since repeatedly demanded his release from custody, saying that he risks being infected with coronavirus. They say that 65-year-old is in a COVID-19 high-risk group because of his age and health problems.

The lawyers submitted a relevant petition to a district court in the Armenian capital last week. The court has yet to respond to it.

Armenian law-enforcement authorities have reported no coronavirus cases among prison inmates or detainees so far. Earlier this month they released two dozen criminal suspects from pre-trial detention, citing the need to protect them against the potentially lethal virus.

Kocharian and three other former officials are standing trial on charges mostly stemming from the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan. They all deny the accusations, with the ex-president accusing the current Armenian authorities of waging a political “vendetta” against him. The authorities maintain that the coup and corruption charges leveled against him are not politically motivated.

The trial was suspended in March after the presiding judge, Anna Danibekian, unexpectedly took sick leave. Although Danibekian officially returned to work on April 17, she decided that the trial will resume on May 8.

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