YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—A court in Yerevan has denied bail to former President Robert Kocharian, who faces charges of overthrowing the constitutional order and bribery.
The November 7 ruling comes two days after Kocharian claimed in court that he could not influence the case by being at large and therefore his request for bail should be granted. His lawyers also said that he had not hidden from investigation before and would not hide if granted bail.
After Judge Anna Danibekyan publicized the decision Kocharian’s defense team said they will appeal it at a higher judicial instance.
Lawyer Ruben Sahakyan said the decision was not something they did not expect. At the same time, he rejected accusations that by repeatedly filing bail requests the counsel for the defense seek to protract the trial.
“We are ready to start the pleadings and make our case, defeating the case for the prosecution,” Sahakyan said.
Kocharian’s son Levon Kocharian, meanwhile, told media that “it would be naïve to expect justice from Judge Danibekyan.” “It is yet another unlawful decision,” he said about the rejection of Kocharian’s bail request.
As during previous hearings in the case, dozens of Kocharian supporters and opponents held rival protests in front of the court building today.
Activist Vardges Gaspari, who believes Kocharian must continue to be imprisoned, staged a protest by lying down on the floor in front of the door to the courtroom.
Meanwhile, the ex-president’s supporters outside the court house chanted “Kocharian Is A Hero!” despite the court’s decision.
The charges against Kocharian and three other former senior officials involved in the case relate to a March 2008 decision to call in troops following clashes that left 10 people, including two law-enforcement officers, dead in the worst civil violence in the country’s post-Soviet history.
Since being arrested in July 2018, Kocharian was twice released from pretrial detention by court decisions, but in both cases he was rearrested after prosecutors’ appeals.
The last time Kocharian was arrested was in June. The court did not allow his release even after a Constitutional Court ruling in September partly sustaining the ex-president’s appeal concerning legal provisions of the Armenian Code of Procedural Justice invoked by investigators. The Constitutional Court, in particular, had ruled that one of those articles is unconstitutional because it does not take account of current and former senior Armenian officials’ immunity from prosecution guaranteed by the Armenian constitution.
Kocharian’s trial was adjourned in October after the 65-year-old ex-president underwent a surgery for an unspecified condition at one of Yerevan’s hospitals. It resumed on November 5.
Kocharian is specifically accused of illegally using Armenian army units against opposition protesters that demanded the rerun of a disputed presidential election held in February 2008, two months before he completed his second and final term. Early this year he was also charged with taking a bribe of $3 million during his presidency.
The former president denies all charges leveled against him as politically motivated.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for November 12.