A Yerevan district court judge who controversially ordered former President Robert Kocharian’s release from prison a year ago will go on trial soon on charges strongly denied by him.
The official Armenpress news agency reported on Wednesday that prosecutors have formally endorsed the forgery charges brought against the suspended judge, Davit Grigorian, by Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS). It said the criminal case has already been sent to court.
Grigorian presided over the ongoing trial of Kocharian and three other former officials when it got underway in May 2019. A few days later, he not only agreed to free the ex-president but also suspended the trial, questioning the legality of coup charges brought against him.
The decisions angered political allies and supporters of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. Heeding Pashinian’s calls, hundreds of them blocked the entrances to court buildings across Armenia. Pashinian demanded a mandatory “vetting” of all Armenian judges, saying that many of them remain linked to the country’s “corrupt” former leadership.
Kocharian was arrested again in June hours after Armenia’s Court of Appeals overturned Grigorian’s decisions. Three weeks later, SIS officers searched and sealed the judge’s offices and confiscated his computer. Later in July, a state body overseeing the Armenian judiciary suspended Grigorian and allowed the SIS to prosecute him.
Grigorian denied the ensuing accusations of document forgery carrying up to two years in prison. His lawyers described it as government retribution for the ex-president’s release. Law-enforcement authorities categorically denied, however, any connection between the Kocharian case and Grigorian’s prosecution.
The SIS released details of the indictment last week. It claimed that with the help of his secretary Grigorian drew up and signed bogus court protocols to cover up his failure to hold in September 2018 two hearings on separate petitions submitted by an Armenian citizen and a state agency.
In a July 2019 statement, Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General said that the unnamed citizen lodged a complaint against the judge and accused him of committing forgery in February 2019. It said both the SIS and a prosecutor overseeing the law-enforcement body refused to launch a formal inquiry at the time.
According to the statement, in May 2019 the same person appealed to Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian and presented “more substantiated arguments” in support of their allegations. Davtian decided to open a criminal case against the judge on June 28, there days after Kocharian was arrested again.
Another district court judge, Anna Danibekian, took over Kocharian’s high-profile trial in August. She has since repeatedly refused to release him pending the outcome of the trial. The ex-president rejects the coup and corruption charges leveled against him as politically motivated.