Case launched against judge who gave bail to Armenian ex-president
Criminal charges have been brought against Judge David Grigoryan – the judge who decided to give bail to ex-president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan.
Kocharyan himself is accused of overthrowing the constitutional system. About one month after his release on the decision of Judge Grigoryan, he was again imprisoned, after the Court of Appeal overturned the ruling.
The prosecutor’s office states that the ‘attention to Grigoryan’ is in no way connected with the Kocharyan case.
• Ex-president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan arrested for third time
• Armenia: ex-president Kocharyan faces further charges – this time bribery
Grigoryan is the suspect in a forgery case.
On February 18, 2019, one Sergo Panosyan filed an application against Grigoryan.
The General Prosecutor’s Office reported that “the citizen [Panosyan] wrote a statement confirming information about an obvious official forgery in a criminal case.”
Only a few months later, on May 22, was the question revisited, after new evidence was obtained.
At the same time, numerous publications appeared in Armenian media in which both journalists and experts linked the actions of the Prosecutor General’s Office with the Kocharyan case, which the judge led.
After that, the Prosecutor General’s Office stated that attention to Grigoryan was in no way connected with the ex-president’s case.
Search of judge’s offices
On July 16, the special investigative service searched the judge’s office, after which the premises were sealed.
Politik.am wrote that the judge and his lawyer were forbidden from entering his office:
“The investigator of the Special Investigation Service demanded to seal the room, explaining that the area was a crime scene. What kind of crime [this might be] is unclear. Judge Grigoryan, who returned from vacation, was surprised by what happened.”
After the search, Judge Grigoryan stated that his work computer had been confiscated.
As to whether he thought that there were elements of political persecution in this search, the judge replied:
“I can’t say anything right now. When the time comes, I will express my position.”
Pressure on the judge?
Some experts, as well as lawyers, including the judge himself and the ex-president, believe that pressure is being put on Grigoryan and the judicial system of Armenia as a whole.
The judge’s lawyer, Georgi Melikyan, accused the investigating body of gross violations during the searches of the judge’s office.
Lawyer of ex-president Robert Kocharyan, Hayk Alumyan, did not refrain from commenting on the incident either. He described the search of the judge’s office as “persecution and a primitive way to put pressure on him”.
Alumyan says the National Security Service, the Special Investigation Service and the Prosecutor’s Office failed to substantiate the accusation against Kocharyan. And now these structures are using all the mechanisms they have to ensure Kocharyan remains in a prison cell.
Former Nagorno-Karabakh ombudsman, former Deputy Minister of Justice of Armenia Ruben Melikyan, stated that after Judge David Grigoryan’s decision to release Robert Kocharyan from detention, any government intervention in this matter should be considered a priori as an encroachment on the independence of the court.
“This is a case when the independence of the court is above the investigative secrecy,” wrote Ruben Melikyan on his Facebook page.
Why are the Grigoryan and Kocharyan cases being linked?
On May 18, Grigoryan released the former president of the republic, Robert Kocharyan, on bail under the personal guarantee of the current and former presidents of Nagorno-Karabakh, Bako Sahakyan and Arkady Ghukasyan.
In addition, Grigoryan sent the case to the Constitutional Court to clarify the issue of the constitutionality of the article on the overthrow of the constitutional system, according to which Kocharyan is accused. He put before the Constitutional Court also the issue of the issue of immunity, which the former presidents of Armenia possess – according to the constitution of the country.
More details on the Kocharyan case
In July 2018, Robert Kocharian was charged with overthrowing the constitutional order in the March 1, 2008 case.
The March 1, 2008 case refers to the violent dispersal of a demonstration that took place on the same date that resulted in 10 deaths.
Protesters gathered in Yerevan after the Central Election Commission announced Serzh Sargsyan had won the February 2008 elections, demanding a recount of the vote, and claiming that the first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, was the real victor.
During the dispersal of the demonstration, military-grade weapons were used, and eight civilians and two policemen died. The president of the country at that time was still Robert Kocharyan, which is why he stands accused of ‘overthrowing the constitutional system.’
The investigation into the March 1 case did not advance until the Velvet Revolution of 2018, after which the new government headed by revolutionary leader Nikol Pashinyan immediately took up the cause.
On July 28, 2018, the ex-president was arrested for the first time in this case. However, after two weeks he was released. The Court of Appeals ruled his arrest was illegal in the first place, given that Robert Kocharyan enjoys immunity as a former president.
After Kocharyan’s release in August 2018, on November 15, the Court of Cassation sent the case to the Court of Appeal for a new investigation. And on December 7, 2018, the Court of Appeal issued a decision to re-arrest the ex-president. From that day on, the second President of Armenia was again in prison until May 18, 2019.
Until the very day when David Grigoryan decided to release him from arrest.
After that, the Prosecutor General’s Office appealed this decision. And on June 25, the Court of Appeal overturned Grigoryan’s decision. As a result, the former president of Armenia was again arrested.
From February 2019, another accusation was brought against Kocharyan: that of receiving a bribe of 927 million drams [about $3 million].
The ex-president does not recognize any of the accusations against him and considers them a political vendetta of the current Armenian authorities – more precisely, the former oppositionist and the current Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan.