Judge Anna Danibekian

Kocharyan Backers Arrested For ‘Obstructing Justice’

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Two supporters of Robert Kocharyan were arrested over the weekend on charges of harassing a judge presiding over the trial of Armenia’s jailed former president.

In an incident broadcast live on Facebook, the young men approached and pursued the judge, Anna Danibekian, as she walked towards a district court in Yerevan late on Friday, September 27. One of them, Narek Mutafyan, persistently asked Danibekian whether she believes she is among those “whimpering” judges that were lambasted by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently.

Danibekian complained to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), a body overseeing Armenian courts, about the incident before Mutafyan and the other man, Sargis Ohanjanyan, were arrested by police. They both were charged with interfering in the work of a court for the purpose of “obstruction of justice.”

If convicted, they will face heavy fines and up to two years in prison. Mutafyan reportedly testified that he did not mean to bully or pressure the judge.

In a statement, the SJC said the pro-Kocharyan youths insulted Danibekian and tried to put “psychological pressure” on the 41-year-old judge through “inappropriate questioning.” Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, also condemned them.

One of Kocharyan’s lawyers, Aram Vartevanyan, added his voice to the condemnations while accusing the authorities of selective justice. Vartevanyan claimed that the authorities turned a blind eye to the more serious harassment of two judges who ordered Kocharyan’s release from prison in August 2018 and May 2019.

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One of those judges, Davit Grigoryan, presided over Kocharyan’s trial when it started in May. According to Vartevanyan, Grigoryan publicly received threats from Pashinyan supporters after ordering the former president’s release.

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