Armenian Court Dismisses Case, Frees Detained Former President Kocharian

Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian has been released from a pretrial detention facility after the country's Court of Appeals ruled that he cannot be prosecuted for the 2008 postelection violence in Yerevan.

Ruben Sahakian, Kocharian's defense lawyer, said on August 13 that the appeal court’s decision was based on Article 140 of the constitution that 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."

Kocharian, 63, was arrested in July after he was charged with involvement in a postelection crackdown in which 10 people, including two police officers, were killed.

Kocharian has denied charges of "overthrowing Armenia's constitutional order," calling them politically motivated.

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

The case dates back to late February and early March 2008 in the wake of a disputed election to determine Kocharian's successor.

Kocharian's ally, Serzh Sarkisian, was declared the winner, angering the opposition and setting off 10 days of nonstop protests that led to the deadly crackdown.

Pashinian's administration has also brought cases against several other former officials and close relatives of Sarkisian’s family for a variety of alleged crimes.

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