Accessibility links

Breaking News

Armenia's Constitutional Court Rules Ex-President Kocharian's Arrest 'Unconstitutional'

Former President Robert Kocharian

YEREVAN -- Armenia's Constitutional Court has ruled that the arrest of former President Robert Kocharian was "unconstitutional."

Kocharian faces charges of overthrowing the constitutional order during the final weeks of his decade-long rule that ended in April 2008.

Kocharian's lawyer Aram Vardevanian told reporters on September 4 that the court's decision means his client "cannot be under arrest."

It was not immediately clear if Kocharian would be released and charges against him dropped.

Kocharian was released from custody after a court terminated a criminal case against him and other senior officials but he was rearrested after an appellate court overturned those decisions in late June.

In March 2008, after a disputed presidential election the previous month, outgoing President Kocharian declared emergency rule following clashes that left at least eight people, including a police officer, dead in the worst civil violence in that country's post-Soviet history.

Armenia’s Supreme Judicial Council -- a body tasked with ensuring that Armenia's courts exercise judicial power separately from the legislative and executive branches of government -- filed seemingly unrelated forgery charges in July against the judge who had presided over the start of Kocharian's trial before suspending the proceedings and ordering his release.

That same judge, Davit Grigorian, had also referred Kocharian's case to the Constitutional Court.

Supporters of Kocharian and other critics of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's government have accused law enforcement agencies in Armenia of applying pressure on the judiciary and undermining its independence.