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Armenian Opposition Feels 'Vindicated' By Coup Charge Dismissal

Levon Zurabian
Levon Zurabian
YEREVAN -- The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) says that prosecutors negated the official theory behind last year's deadly postelection unrest in Yerevan when they dropped coup charges against seven opposition figures on April 1.

Senior HAK representative Levon Zurabian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that "the official theory of the March 1 events officially died yesterday."

The seven oppositionists went on trial in December, accused of plotting an "usurpation of state authority by force" and provoking the March 1, 2008, violence that led to 10 deaths.

The coup charges were dropped because of amendments recently made to Armenia's Criminal Code under pressure from the Council of Europe.

The revision of the charges led district court Judge Mnatsakan Martirosian to rule that the defendants must face fresh and separate trials on charges of organizing "mass disturbances."

The HAK and its top leader, former President Levon Ter-Petrossian, had strongly denied the government's claims and blame the authorities for the deaths of eight civilians and two policemen in the clashes.