YEREVAN, September 21. /ARKA/. A first instance court in Yerevan has turned down today a request for the release of ex-president Robert Kocharyan from pre-trial custody.
Kocharyna’s lawyers asked the court to release their client from pre-trial custody on bail or on a written pledge not to leave the country pending trial.
On September 4 Armenia’s Constitutional Court ruled that Kocharyan’s arrest was unconstitutional. Kocharyan’s petitions had asked the court to declare unconstitutional two articles of the Code of Procedural Justice, part 2 of Article 135 (defamation in public speaking) and Article 35 (preparation for crime), which law-enforcement authorities used to arrest him.
Kocharyan’s lawyers argue that the Armenian Constitution gives their client immunity from prosecution for the crackdown on the opposition after the contested 2008 presidential election
Kocharyan’s case dates back to late February and early March 2008 following the disputed presidential election, when then prime minister Serzh Sargsyan was declared the winner, angering the opposition, that was led by the first Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan who set off 10 days of nonstop protests that led to a crackdown on March 1, in which 10 people were killed and more than 200 injured.
The same charge is brought against Yuri Khachaturov, who had been the chief of the Yerevan garrison at the time of the bloody events. Khachaturov was detained by then released on a 5 million dram bail. Also former defense minister Mikael Harutyunyan is wanted by the law-enforcement authorities as a defendant in the case. He is accused of illegally using the Armenian armed forces against opposition supporters who demonstrated in Yerevan in the wake of the disputed presidential election held in February 2008.
The other two defendants in the case are Seyran Ohanyan, who was chief of staff of armed forces in 2008 and Armen Gevorkyan, then chief of staff of Kocharyan’s administration.