A Yerevan judge presiding over the two-year trial of Kocharian and three other former officials made the decision on Tuesday ten days after the charges were declared unconstitutional by Armenia’s Constitutional Court.
The high court argued that they cannot be prosecuted for the alleged “overthrow of the constitutional order” because there was no such article in the country’s former Criminal Code which was in force during the events of March 2008.
“I can say that I am very upset with the processes that have taken place,” Badasian told reporters when asked to comment on the development.
Badasian declined to comment on the future of the long-running criminal case on the worst street violence in Armenia’s history. He said it is up to prosecutors to decide whether to appeal against the decision made by Anna Danibekian, a judge of the Yerevan court of first instance.
The minister implied that the decision may have been made possible by the current Armenian authorities’ failure to radically reform the judiciary and “vet” all judges.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian demanded a mandatory “vetting” of all Armenian judges in May 2019 just days after another judge, who initially presided over Kocharian’s trial, freed the ex-president from custody and questioned the legality of the coup charges. Pashinian’s government subsequently agreed to refrain from such a purge of the judiciary at the urging of European legal experts.
The prime minister has repeatedly stated that law-enforcement authorities have identified those responsible for the March 2008 deaths of eight opposition protesters and two police servicemen in vicious street clashes between security forces and demonstrators. His critics dispute that claim.
Kocharian and the other defendants deny responsibility for the bloodshed and reject the accusations as politically motivated.