Armenia’s Court of Cassation dismissed a lower court’s decision from August to release former President Robert Kocharyan from custody.
Kocharyan was detained on July 27 on charges of overthrowing the constitutional order during the 2008 post-election period. Kocharyan called the accusations a “political persecution” and a “vendetta”.
On February 19, 2008, Serzh Sargsyan became the president of Armenia. His opponent, the first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian, and his supporters refused to accept the results of the election. For the next 10 days, round-the-clock sit-ins around the Opera in Freedom Square took place. Then-President Robert Kocharyan announced a state of emergency.
On March 1, government forces clashed with protesters, resulting in the deaths of eight civilians and two policemen, and left roughly 300 injured. A decade later, there has been no legal consequence or case opened for the deaths that occurred as a result of the violence.
The Court of Appeals released the ex-president on August 13, saying that the Armenian constitution ensures immunity for ex-presidents from prosecution.
Both state prosecutors and Kocharyan appealed against that ruling. On November 15, the Court of Cassation granted the Prosecutor General’s complaint in part, and rejected the appeal of Kocharyan’s lawyers. The Constitutional Court ordered the Court of Appeals to again examine the case.
Kocharyan will not be arrested, pending another court ruling on his pretrial arrest.
Kocharyan’s lawyer, Hayk Alumyan, spoke negatively of the court’s decision.
“It’s my understanding that the case of the president’s immunity has not been settled and was sent to the Constitutional Court to be resolved,” he said.
Alumyan said that there are no new facts in the case, “only words have increased.” The defense is preparing to appeal the ruling in the European Court of Human Rights.
Pashinyan, who played a key role in the 2008 protests, has strongly defended the criminal case against Kocharyan. Some say the timing of this decision is related to the upcoming parliamentary elections and keeping this topic alive and current