The Armenian Prosecutor-General’s Office said on March 13 that it has no grounds for instructing an investigation body to interrogate former President Robert Kocharian in connection with postelection violence a decade ago.
Last week, Nikol Pashinian, the leader of the Yelk alliance, an opposition faction in parliament, asked the prosecutor-general to subpoena Kocharian for questioning over his order to use lethal force to suppress protests held by the opposition in the wake of the South Caucasus country's disputed 2008 presidential election.
Pashinian, who participated in the protests and was later tried and convicted as one of the organizers, in a video on Facebook on March 5 said that Kocharian in particular should explain where he got information about gunshots fired at security forces at the protests, which was a key excuse cited by authorities in violently putting down the protests.
Pashinian’s demand came less than two weeks after a senior ruling party lawmaker who led a parliamentary investigation into the deadly unrest had raised the same question in parliamentary hearings.
In its reply, the Prosecutor-General’s Office told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that Pashinian has no legal standing to demand Kocharian's testimony.
The prosecutor also insisted that “according to the information collected by the investigation body so far, there are no grounds for ordering the interrogation of Kocharian as a witness.”
The head of Kocharian’s office, Viktor Soghomonian, dismissed Pashinian’s demand on March 12, describing him as the main “provocateur and organizer” of the 2008 unrest.
Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the 2008 melee, which was followed by a crackdown on the opposition during a state of emergency imposed by Kocharian. No one has been charged with murder in connection with the incident.