Why is Kocharyan being sentenced?

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Second President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan was released from jail on May 18. His preventive measure was substituted for freedom with personal guarantees. Judgement on this case was announced at the Court of General Jurisdiction of Avan and Nor Nork Administrative Districts of Yerevan, chaired by David Grigoryan.

The current and former presidents of Nagorno Karabakh, Bako Sahakyan and Arkady Ghukasyan, presented personal guarantee and bail of 500,000 AMD per person in order to release the RA second President from jail.

The first hearing in the trial started on May 13. As the extension date of Kocharyan’s custody would be over on May 19, first the Court had do decide on how Kocharyan’s preventive measure would continue before passing to the actual case investigation.

During the 4-day trial, Robert Kocharyan’s attorneys provided grounds why their client should not be kept in custody, while representatives of the RA Prosecutor’s Office continued to claim just the opposite.

In particular, the prosecutor Petros Petrosyan stated there is a risk that Kocharyan will hide from the investigation. While, in his speech, Robert Kocharyan reversed saying he would not run away from the investigation and the prosecutor’s attitude is offending for him.

What is Kocharyan accused of ?

Two accusations are presented against the RA second President. He is accused of overthrowing the constitutional order on the criminal case of so-called “March 1” events and bribe taking using his official position.

According to the indictment,

Occupying the post of President of the Republic of Armenia from April 9, 1998 to April 9, 2008, Robert Kocharyan overthrew the RA constitutional order. He is also charged with acting in favor of businesswoman Silva Hambartsumyan. In return for promoting this deal, Kocharyan,  with the assistance of entrepreneur Samvel Mayrapetyan, in February  and May 2008, received a bribe from her in especially large amounts of 927 mln AMD (US$ 3 mln).         

Robert Kocharyan does not admit to the allegations brought against him considering his arrest a political proceeding. He announced about his intention to return to politics on August 16, 2018 in an interview with Yerkir Media TV. And as a defendant, he is involved in “March 1” events since July 26, 2018.

Extension Stages of Kocharyan’s Custody

The Yerevan Court of First Instance of General Jurisdiction on July 27, 2018 made a decision to apply arrest as measure of restraint against Robert Kocharyan. For the first time, Kocharyan was held in custody until August 23, when the Court of Appeal granted Robert Kocharyan’s legal defenders’ appeal on the grounds that he had presidential immunity. Kocharyan was freed.

Anyhow, RA Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan appelaed the Court’s decision. On November 15, the Court of Cassation partially granted the Prosecutor General’s appeal and the case was sent to the Court of Appeal for a retrial. And on December 7, 2018 the Criminal Court of Appeal made a decision to remand Robert Kocharyan in custody. On the same day Robert Kocharyan was again arrested.

Then, by the January 18 decision of the First Instance Court, the custody was extended for another 2 months. The next decision to extend the custody was made on March 15. Meanwhile, Kocharyan’s attorneys appealed the Court’s decisions but the latters remained unchanged.

Who are involved in the criminal case of Kocharyan

The following people are also in the status of accused alongside with Kocharyan on the case of “March 1” events: Chief of Staff of the RA President and Secretary of the National Security Council Armen Gevorgyan, ex-Secretary General of the CSTO, RA Deputy Minister of Defense and Chief of the Yerevan military garrison in 2008 Yuri Khachaturov and Head of the General Staff of RA Armed Forces in 2008 Seyran Ohanyan.

But solely Robert Kocharyan is remanded in custody in connection with this criminal case. Signature bond of not leaving the country was applied against Armen Gevorgyan and Seyran Ohanyan as preventive measure. While measure of restraint against Yuri Khachaturov was imprisonment which was substituted for an alternative remedy – Khachaturov was released with a bail of 5 mln AMD.

The claiming side presented a list of 800 witnesses, including the RA first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan and the RA third President Serzh Sargsyan. Whereas the defending side presented a list of 10 witnesses, most of whom are Judges of the Constitutional Court, including former President of the Constitutional Court Gagik Harutyunyan, businessman Samvel Mayrapetyan and RA Defense Minister in 2008 Michael Harutyunyan. The latter is charged with the same case. He was wanted, but RF law enforcers stopped searching for Harutyunyan in Russia because he is a Russian citizen and can not be extradited to another country.

Alliance of Kocharyan’ Supporters

On May 12, the previous day of preliminary hearing of court sitting on “March 1” case, a number of individuals, leaders and representatives of organizations hold a meeting forming the “Alliance of President Robert  Kocharyan’s supporters.” According to the representatives of the alliance, their purpose is to support the “illegally  imprisoned” RA second president Robert Kocharyan.

Public dissatisfaction

During the first court sitting, supporters of Robert Kocharyan hold a protest action just in front of the court. The action continued throughout all days of the sittings and on the day of Court decision publication. Alongside with it, supporters of Kocharyan’s custody hold a protest action in the same place. These protests did not refrain from incidents.

On May 19 and 20, the Court’s decision was followed by protest rallies along the streets of Yerevan demanding to remand Kocharyan in custody.

What Comes Next

After the Court’s decision to substitute Kocharyan’s preventive measure for personal guarantee, representatives of the RA Prosecutor General’s Office informed that they are going to appeal the decision. While Kocharyan’s lawyer Hayk Alumyan states that judiciary act is not a subject to be appealed, as the Law does not allow to appeal the decisions made at this stage.

Anyhow, process of the case was unexpected for both defending and claiming sides. The same Judge decided to suspend the proceedings of the criminal case and send it to the RA Constitutional Court.

According to the defending side, purpose of such an action is to make investigation by the Constitutional Court whether the laws, at the core of this case, come to the Constitution, or not. According to the lawyer of Kocharyan – Hayk Alumyan, the case investigation at the Constitutional Court may last for two months.

Advocate Vahe Grigoryan, who represents the injured of ″March 1″ events, reports that as the decision was sent to the Constitutional Court, all sides were deprived of the possibility to appeal.

Meanwhile, the RA Prosecutor’s Office is planning to appeal against the decision of Kocharyan’s release. In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office has already filed a motion for self-withdrawal of the Judge in the case of Kocharyan.

Story by Angela Poghosyan

Translated by Mary Grigoryan

Responsible editor Suren Deheryan

For Armenian original  CLICK HERE

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First Published: 23/05/2019