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Ex-Armenian President Kocharian Faces Trial Over Deadly 2008 Crackdown

Robert Kocharian gives an interview in August 2018.
Robert Kocharian gives an interview in August 2018.

YEREVAN -- Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian is set to go on trial on May 13 on charges of overthrowing the constitutional order during the final weeks of his decade-long rule that ended in April 2008.

Kocharian is accused of illegally ordering security forces to use force against opposition supporters who were protesting against alleged fraud in a disputed presidential election in February 2008.

Eight protesters and two police officers were killed when security forces quelled the two days of protests that began on March 1, 2008. The crackdown came after Kocharian declared a three-week state of emergency.

The 64-year-old ex-president, who served as president from 1998 to 2008, has remained in pretrial detention since his arrest in December.

Kocharian denies any wrongdoing, saying that the accusations are part of incumbent Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's political "vendetta" against him.

Pashinian, a former opposition lawmaker, was swept to power last year after leading protests that ousted Kocharian's former ally and successor, Serzh Sarkisian.

Pashinian played a key role in the 2008 protests and spent nearly two years in prison because of it.

He has strongly defended the criminal case against Kocharian and denied orchestrating it.