Anna Danibekian, a Yerevan judge presiding over the two-year trial of Kocharian and three other former officials, announced the decision on April 6 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.
In response to that ruling, Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian asked the Constitutional Court to also declare unconstitutional legal provisions that do not allow his office to alter the coup accusations leveled against the defendants.
Other prosecutors said the coup trial should therefore be suspended, rather than discontinued altogether, pending a Constitutional Court verdict on the appeal. Danibekian dismissed their arguments.
A spokeswoman for Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General, Arevik Khachatrian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Thursday that the law-enforcement agency has asked the Court of Appeals to overturn Danibekian’s decision to clear Kocharian of the coup charges.
The judge also ruled on April 6 that Kocharian and his former chief of staff, Armen Gevorgian, will continue to stand trial only on bribery charges which they also strongly deny. She fully acquitted the two other defendants, retired Generals Yuri Khachaturov and Seyran Ohanian, who were prosecuted only in connection with the post-election unrest.