YEREVAN—Attorneys for former president Robert Kocharian, who was arrested and remanded into custody Friday on charges of breaching Armenia’s Constitutional order, said during a press conference on Saturday at Erebuni Plaza that their client was innocent and the case against him does not make sense.
One of his attorneys, Ruben Sahakyan said during the press conference that the case against Kocharian was “legally illiterate,” adding that it was a directive. He, however, did not elaborate as to from where the so-called directive was emanating.
“It was clear that this was a directive that needed to be carried out,” Sahakyab said. “Who is the directive from? Naturally, I can’t say. I can assume, [but] to voice [it]—no. I believe the [real] culprits can be found the Prosecutor General’s Office, [and] the Armenia’s Special Inestigative Service.”
Another attorney, Aram Orbelyan, said the criminal case launched against Kocharian is not well developed.
“We cannot understand the charges brought against Kocharian. The material presented [to us] contain no proof. I am unable to understand the charge, there are some facts, then comes the Article 300.1 [breaching the constitutional order]. I cannot understand the specifics of the criminal offense so that we can defend or not to defend him. I cannot understand whether he is accused of using the army or declaring state of emergency. There is no concrete charge for us to assess whether it is a crime or not,”,Orbelyan said adding that the entire process is illegal.
Viktor Soghomonyan, Kocharian’s spokesperson said that the former president would be released soon.
“We haven’t committed any wrongdoing, Kocharyan has no sense of guilt. He returned to Armenia with a clear conscience, he didn’t avoid any of the processes,” said Soghomonyan.
Kocharian was called into the SIS for questioning on Thursday and when he showed up he was officially charged with colluding with others to breach Armenia’s Constitutional order. After a lengthy arraignment hearing Friday, he was arrested and remanded into pre-trial custody, where he will remain for two months.
In an unprecedented interview with Yerkir Media on Thursday Kocharian vowed that he will fight the charges “to the end,” calling them a politically motivated “vendetta.”
“I will go. I will sit [in jail] but I will fight this until the end,” a visibly shaken Kocharian told Yerkir Media’s Gegham Manoukyan in an exclusive interview that aired on the channel Thursday evening.
During the more than 47-minute interview, during which he continuously repeated himself, Kocharian called the charges a “political vendetta” by the current regime, saying “they have already determined who the guilty parties are and are searching for ways to make the charges stick.”
“When I see that people are skilled at inventing such fabrications, I realize that for them nothing is sacred. They are capable of anything,” said Kocharian who called the entire episode “judicial surrealism” and warned that it will have a lasting impact on Armenia and its judiciary.
Also charged with “breach of Constitutional Order” was Yuri Khachaturov, who during the March 1 events was head of the internal security forces, and currently serves as the executive director of the Collective Security Treaty Organization—the post-Soviet regional security group, of which Armenia is a member.
Khachaturov was also arrested Friday. He was released after posting a 5 million dram (approximately $10,000) bail.
Earlier this month, the SIS charged Armenia’s Defense Minister at the time Mikael Harutiunyan with the same offense.
On July 3, SIS charged that on February 23, 2008, Harutiunyan secretly and illegally ordered the army to help enforce the official vote results. Military units began moving in to Yerevan in the following days and were actively engaged in the ensuing crackdown that resulted in the 10 deaths.
The SIS statement at the time said that the “de facto martial law” regime created by the deployment of the army violated constitutional provisions guaranteeing the military’s neutrality.
“A number of high-ranking officials of the acting authorities, including Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunyan, carried out actions aimed at violently breaching the constitutional order in the Republic of Armenia,” read the SIS statement based on which the charges were brought against the 72-year-old Harutiunyan, who served as the Armed Forces chief of staff from 1994 to 2007, before being named defense minister by Kocharian.