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Prosecutors Reluctant To Drop Coup Charges Against Kocharian


Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian talks to his lawyers during his trial, Yerevan, April 2, 2021.

Prosecutors have refused to drop coup charges against former President Robert Kocharian that have been declared unconstitutional by Armenia’s Constitutional Court.

Kocharian as well as two retired generals are prosecuted under Article 300.1 of the Armenian Criminal Code dealing with “overthrow of the constitutional order.” The accusation rejected by them as politically motivated stems from the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan that left ten people dead.

The current Criminal Code was enacted in 2009. The previous code, which was in force during the dramatic events of March 2008, had no clauses on “overthrow of the constitutional order” and contained instead references to “usurpation of state power.”

The Constitutional Court last week backed defense lawyers’ arguments that that Article 300.1 cannot be used retroactively against Kocharian and the other defendants.

Citing the court ruling, the lawyers have demanded that the Anna Danibekian, a Yerevan judge presiding over their two-year trial, throw out the coup charges.

Trial prosecutors objected to the demand on Friday. One of them, Gevorg Baghdasarian, revealed that Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian has appealed to the Constitutional Court to also declare unconstitutional legal provisions that do not allow the prosecutors to alter the accusations leveled against the defendants.

Davtian insisted in his appeal that Kocharian and retired Generals Seyran Ohanian and Yuri Khachaturov must be prosecuted for what they did in March 2008 because their actions contained “elements not allowed by the Criminal Code.”

Baghdasarian said Danibekian should therefore suspend the trial pending a Constitutional Court ruling on Davtian’s appeal.

Kocharian’s lawyers rejected the prosecutors’ demand as illegal. They insisted that the presiding judge must end the coup trial altogether.

Danibekian responded by saying that she will announce her decision on Tuesday.

Kocharian, who ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, also stands accused of bribe-taking. He strongly denies that accusation as well.

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