Armenian Ex-President Kocharian Again Denied Bail

By RFE/RL's Armenian Service

YEREVAN -- An Armenian court has denied bail to former President Robert Kocharian, who faces charges of overthrowing the constitutional order and bribery.

Kocharian's lawyers and three former Armenian prime ministers had petitioned the court in Yerevan to release the former president from custody when his high-profile trial resumed last week following a two-month pause.

Speaking during the May 8 hearing, the 65-year-old Kocharian claimed to be at risk of contracting the coronavirus in prison given his age and health problems.

He said that despite being alone in his cell, the conditions did not allow him to "maintain safe physical distance."

Previous petitions submitted by Kocharian's lawyers calling for their client to be released from detention had been rejected.

Prosecutors oppose such a move, saying the man who ruled Armenia from 1998 to 2008 could flee prosecution or obstruct justice.

On May 12, the ex-president underwent surgery at a Yerevan hospital for the second time in seven months.

Kocharian's office did not reveal what medical condition the ex-president had, but said he was now in a "satisfactory" state.

The ex-president was not present in the courtroom on May 13.

Kocharian is standing trial along with three other former officials on charges stemming from his alleged role in a 2008 postelection crackdown on the opposition, as well as for taking bribes. He rejects the charges as politically motivated.

The next court hearing is scheduled for May 19.