YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A judge in Yerevan threw out on April 6 coup charges against former President Robert Kocharyan which Armenia’s Constitutional Court had earlier declared unconstitutional.
Kocharyan and two retired generals were charged in 2018 with “overthrowing the constitutional order” under Article 300.1 of the Armenian Criminal Code. The accusation rejected by them as politically motivated stems from the 2008 post-election unrest that left ten people dead.
The current Criminal Code was enacted after the dramatic events of March 2008. In a March 26 ruling, the Constitutional Court backed defense lawyers’ arguments that it cannot be applied retroactively against Kocharyan and the other defendants.
Citing the court ruling, the lawyers demanded last week that the Anna Danibekyan, the judge presiding over their two-year trial, throw out the coup charges. Danibekyan accepted the demand.
The judge ruled that Kocharyan and his former chief of staff, Armen Gevorgyan, will continue to stand trial only on bribery charges which they also strongly deny. She fully acquitted the two other defendants, retired Generals Yuri Khachaturov and Seyran Ohanyan, who were prosecuted only in connection with the post-election unrest.
Prosecutor-General Artur Davtyan last week appealed to the Constitutional Court to also declare unconstitutional legal provisions that do not allow the prosecutors to alter the coup accusations leveled against the defendants. The trial prosecutors said the coup trial should therefore be suspended, rather than discontinued altogether, pending a high court ruling on the appeal.