Former President Robert Kocharyan released from custody in Armenia
Former President of Armenia Robert Kocharian has been released from custody after the Court of Appeal declared the previous ruling made by a lower court regarding his arrest ‘illegal’.
Robert Kocharyan was the President of Armenia from 1998 to 2008. He was arrested in connection with the events that took place on 1 and 2 March, 2008: Following the presidential elections on 18 February 2008, political bloc supporters headed by the first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, demanded an investigation into the election results, claiming Levon Ter-Petrosyan won the election instead of Kocharyan. Thousands of protesters occupied the central square in Yerevan, taking part in round-the-clock demonstrations until 1 March.
On 1 March, military-grade weapons were used to disperse the crowds. Eight civilians and two police officers were killed in the process. Kocharyan was still president of the country at the time. According to data from the Central Electoral Commission, President Serzh Sargsyan was elected. However, he had not yet taken office.
Kocharyan’s lawyer, Ruben Sahakyan, told reporters that the basis for his release was a provision in the Constitution according to which Kocharyan has immunity as a former president.
He also said that Kocharyan left the court building immediately upon his release, and did not communicate with anyone.
The lawyers of the ex-president noted that the criminal prosecution of their client could also be terminated if his immunity is taken into account.
The charges against Kocharyan still remain.