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Prosecutors Not Allowed To Bring New Charges Against Kocharian


Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian greets supporters rallying in Yerevan, May 9, 2021.

Armenia’s Constitutional Court has refused to enable prosecutors to bring new coup charges against former President Robert Kocharian and two retired generals who were prosecuted in connection with the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

Kocharian and retired Generals Seyran Ohanian and Yuri Khachaturov were charged in 2018 with the “overthrow of the constitutional order.”

In a March 26 ruling, the Constitutional Court declared the accusation unconstitutional, saying that there was no such article in the former Armenian Criminal Code, which was in force in 2008, and that the current code cannot be used retroactively against the defendants.

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. He insisted that Kocharian, Ohanian and Khachaturov must still be prosecuted for what they did in March 2008 because their actions contained “elements not allowed by the Criminal Code.”

Other prosecutors said, meanwhile, that the coup trial of the three men should be suspended, rather than discontinued altogether, pending a Constitutional Court verdict on the appeal. A lower court judge presiding over the trial dismissed their arguments and threw out the coup charges on April 6.

The Office of the Prosecutor-General said on Wednesday that Davtian’s appeal has also been rejected. In a statement, it said the high court ruled that the chief prosecutor was not even allowed to challenge the constitutionality of legal provisions relating to an ongoing criminal case.

Davtian’s office denounced the court’s “arbitrary” decision, saying that it contradicts the Armenian constitution.

Kocharian, who ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, is continuing to stand trial on separate charges of bribe-taking which he also rejects as politically motivated.

The 66-year-old ex-president leads a newly formed opposition alliance which is expected to be a major contender in snap parliamentary elections scheduled for June 20.

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