Kocharyan to remain in custody

Kocharyan to remain in custody

Armenia's Court of Appeal declined the motion filed by lawyers of former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan, prosecutor general Vahagn Muradyan said.

"The court has unveiled the decision – all the complaints of Kocharyan’s lawyers were completely declined, and he will remain detained," he said, adding that only the final part was read out.

The lawyers had filed the motion demanding to void the first instance count’s decision to extend their client’s pretrial detention for another two months, ARKA recalls.

Former head of the Central Bank of Armenia Bagrat Asatryan, speaking with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza earlier, noted that bringing Robert Kocharian to justice for the March 2008 crimes in the new conditions is only a matter of time. "It is important that 10 years after the March 2008 tragic events, our authorities finally took up the matter. I was an active participant in those protests and I know that back then all the means were used against people who disagree with the results of the presidential election, in which Serzh Sargsyan became the head of state, starting from crimes to military," he said .

The expert noted that today there are no political forces left in Armenia ready to support Robert Kocharyan, including his former comrades. “Robert Kocharyan has never been a public politician, he was a manager, that’s why he set the goal to destroy Armenia's internal policy at one time - so that no one would interfere with his rule. 15 years ago, he actually privatized the Armenian parties and distributed them to the oligarchs. As a result of his efforts, the old internal political field of Armenia was destroyed, but now it turned out that Kocharyan does not have any comrades and supporters in politics. Having lost power, he became simply not interesting for the domestic political situation," Bagrat Asatryan stressed.

Kocharyan, who served two terms as president in 1998-2008, is charged with toppling constitutional order in collusion with other persons in 2008 March. He was detained on July 26, 2018 for two months in pre-trial detention pending investigation. However, he was released from custody on June 13 after the Court of Appeals ruled that he could not be prosecuted for the 2008 March 1 post-election violence.

That ruling was later denounced by the Special Investigative Service, which described it as illegal, saying that the Court of Appeals "overstepped the bounds of its authority." Kocharyan was arrested again in December 2018. On January 18, the court in Yerevan has ruled to extend the arrest of Kocharyan for another two months.

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.