YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A district court in Yerevan rejected on September 17 former President Robert Kocharyan’s latest demand for his release from prison which followed a Constitutional Court ruling on coup charges brought against him.
The Constitutional Court ruled on September 4 that an article of the Armenian Code of Procedural Justice used against Kocharyan is unconstitutional because it does not take account of current and former senior Armenian officials’ legal immunity from prosecution.
Kocharyan’s lawyers seized upon that ruling to demand that their client be set free and cleared of the charges stemming from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan. A district court judge, Anna Danibekyan, received a relevant petition from them when she resumed on September 12 Kocharyan’s trial suspended almost four months ago.
Danibekyan announced her decision to reject the petition at the start of the latest court hearing in the case. She did not immediately publicize the full text of the decision presumably containing her interpretation of the Constitutional Court ruling.
Kocharyan accused Danibekyan of ignoring the ruling when he reacted to her decision in the courtroom. His lawyers charged that the decision is the result of what they described as strong pressure exerted on the judge by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his political allies.
Pashinyan on Monday described the Constitutional Court ruling as “illegal,” citing dissenting opinions voiced by two members of Armenia’s highest tribunal. Also, the parliamentary leaders of his My Step alliance demanded that the court replace its chairman, Hrayr Tovmasyan.