YEREVAN, September 10. /ARKA/. Armenia’s Office of Prosecutor General has responded today to a ruling of the country’s Constitutional Court that declared last Wednesday unconstitutional a legal provision that has been used by law-enforcement authorities for arresting and prosecuting former president Robert Kocharyan.
Kocharyan’s petitions asked the Court to declare unconstitutional two articles of the Armenian 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.
In response to a request by Armenpress to comment the ruling, the Office of Prosecutor General said, in particular that, ‘the Constitution does not contain special and necessary regulations that would allow, in the course of initiating and conducting criminal prosecution of officials endowed with functional integrity, to evaluate whether the action or inaction attributed to them arises from their current or previous status or activity or not. Consequently, the issue of the functional integrity of these persons should be decided by the investigator or prosecutor in pre-trial proceedings as part of general criminal procedure regulations, and in court proceedings by the court. ”
It said the accusation brought against Kocharyan satisfies the additional and preliminary obligatory requirement of lawfulness. It added that the accusation is not connected with his functional integrity, namely: the acts incriminated to Kocharyan cannot be considered as arising from his status.
“Therefore, the Office of Prosecutor General considers that there is no reason to terminate the criminal prosecution against Robert Kocharyan by force of the decision of the Constitutional Court,” it said.
Referring to the Constitutional Court’s ruling Kocharyan’s defense lawyers asked last Saturday a Yerevan low instance court to immediately release the former president and stop the criminal prosecution against him.
The 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, led by the first Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and setting 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.