By Sareen Habeshian
On November 27, the Criminal Court of Appeals launched the trial of the second president of the Republic of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan.
The trial comes after the Constitutional Court ordered the Court of Appeals to re-examine the case. On November 15, Armenia’s Court of Cassation, the highest court in the country, dismissed the Criminal Court of Appeals decision to release Kocharyan from custody.
Kocharyan claims that there is legal ground for his release, beyond ex-president immunity. The Court of Cassation rejected the appeal of Kocharyan's lawyers.
Prosecutor General Arthur Davtyan stated that the former president should be detained during the current phase of the investigation.
“Our stance is that Robert Kocharyan must remain in custody,” he told reporters today.
Davtyan said he personally filed a motion to the court with the appropriate argumenta.
The Court of Cassation referred the Constitutional Court to the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code on detention and its constitutionality. Kocharyan's lawyers criticized the Cassation Court's decision.
Kocharyan was arrested on July 27 when the Yerevan City Court of General Jurisdiction approved the government prosecutors’ request to hold Kocharyan in pre-trial detention. The Court of Appeals released the ex-president two months later, on August 13, saying that the Armenian constitution ensures immunity for former presidents from prosecution.
According to Article 140 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, "The President of the Republic may not be prosecuted and subjected to liability arising out of his / her status during and after his term of office."
Robert Kocharyan was charged in July 2018 with the article on overthrowing the constitutional order during the 2008 post-election developments. On February 19, 2008, when 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. During the next 10 days, there were massive protests in Yerevan.
Then-President Robert Kocharyan announced a state of emergency and army subdivisions entered the capital. On March 1, government forces clashed with protesters resulting in the deaths of eight civilians and two policemen, and roughly 300 were injured. In the course of 10 years, no one has taken or borne any responsibility, including legal, for the deaths that occurred on March 1.