The presiding judge in the trial of the former Armenian president Robert Kocharian has summoned the current and former presidents of Artsakh, Bako Sahakian and Arakady Ghukassian to appear in court. Last week had urged the defendant’s release offering their personal guarantees for bail and his cooperation in the ongoing criminal case.
Kocharian is on trial on charges of breaching Armenia’s constitution in connection with the March 1, 2008 post-election protest crackdown, which resulted in the deaths of eight civilians and two police officers after clashes with security forces.
Sahakian and Ghukassian sent a letter to Armenia’s Prosecutor General, last week calling for Kocharian’s immediate release. The Prosecutor General’s office, in turn, announced that the presidents’ letter should have been addressed to presiding judge of the Kocharian trial, who received the letter from defense attorney Hovhannes Khudoyan on Tuesday.
Upon receiving the letter, Judge David Grigoryan ruled that Sahakian and Ghukassian must both be personally present their request and vouch for Kocharian, who was president of Artsakh from 1994 to 1997. Grigoryan asked the defense team to arrange for Sahakian’s and Ghukassian’s appearance on Thursday, effectively saying that the court will not be in session on Friday.
Another Kocharian defense attorney, Hayk Alumyan, announced that the two Artsakh presidents will attempt to appear in court.
“Mr. Bako Sahakoian has an official meeting tomorrow. He does not want to miss that meeting but since the court has ruled out other options, I think they will appear in court together,” said Alumyan.
After being charged and arrested, Kocharian denied the allegations in the charges against him and called the entire case a political vendetta. He has been in pre-trial custody.
The trial began on Monday and Wednesday’s session was adjourned to allow the defense to arrange for the Sahakian and Ghukassian to appear in court.