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Armenia's Ex-President Sarkisian To Be Questioned Over 2008 Crackdown

Former Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (left) and his predecessor Robert Kocharian in 2008.
Former Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (left) and his predecessor Robert Kocharian in 2008.

YEREVAN -- The head of Armenia's Special Investigative Service (SIS) says former President Serzh Sarkisian will be questioned as part of an investigation into a deadly crackdown against protesters following the country's 2008 presidential election.

Sasun Khachatrian told reporters on August 16 that "all individuals linked to the case will be questioned."

"Serzh Sarkisian will be questioned as well," Khachatrian said, adding that the procedure "will be decided by an investigator on the basis of the necessity to investigate the criminal case and expediency of implementing concrete investigative activities."

Khachatrian also said he hopes former Armenian President Robert Kocharian will be rearrested in connection with the case.

Kocharian, 63, was arrested in July on charges that he was involved in the 2008 post-election violence in which 10 people were killed, including two police officers.

His August 13 release from custody on the orders of an appeals court in Yerevan sparked protests in the Armenian capital.

The court said it based its decision on Article 140 of the constitution, which states: "During the term of his or her powers and thereafter, the President of the Republic may not be prosecuted and subjected to liability for actions deriving from his or her status."

'Illegal' Decision

Khachatrian reiterated an earlier SIS statement on Kocharian's release, calling the court's decision "illegal."

"I just defined the decision of the court of appeals as illegal, and actually, that definition of mine is very soft," Khachatrian said.

He also said Kocharian would be arrested immediately if he tries to flee Armenia.

“I do not think Kocharian will try to leave the country. At this point, pretrial limitations for him have not been ordered. But if he tries to leave the country that will be defined as an attempted obstruction of justice and the limitation measure will be introduced," Khachatrian said.

Kocharian denies the charges against him, calling them politically motivated.

Kocharian's arrest came as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's government stepped up legal action against officials linked to the previous government.

The case against Kocharian dates back to late February and early March 2008 following a disputed election that brought Kocharian’s close ally Serzh Sarkisian to the presidency.

The declaration by election officials that Sarkisian won the vote angered the opposition and set off 10 days of protests that culminated in the deadly crackdown.

Pashinian's administration has also brought cases against several other former officials and close relatives of Sarkisian.

Pashinian, an anticorruption campaigner, was elected prime minister in May after weeks of mass protests in Armenia against corruption and cronyism.

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