The defence for Robert Kocharyan is protesting the government’s allegedly indifferent attitude towards the situation
The lawyers of former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan, who is currently under arrest, have reported threats made against them.
One of the lawyers, Hayk Alumyan, said that he began receiving threats as soon as he agreed to help defend Robert Kocharyan.
He quoted one of the threats: “You will be punished. You are a traitor to the nation. You will be convicted with Robert. You came out against the people, and we know where you live.”
Former president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan has been accused of ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’, which refers to the events of 1 and 2 March 2008. After the presidential elections of 19 February 2008, supporters of the first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, came out in protest, demanding that the election results be re-examined. They claimed that Ter-Petrosyan had won and not Serzh Sargsyan as was announced by the Central Election Committee. Robert Kocharyan, still president at the time, imposed a state of emergency, and on 1 March 2008 the police and the military were brought in to disperse the protesters. Ten people died.
Alumyan says that law enforcement agencies know about the number of threats being made on social media networks, but have decided not to take any steps to punish guilty parties. He also believes that the threats made against him and other lawyers are an attempt to exert direct influence and pressure on the trial.
“I have never seen lawyers subjected to something of the sort. For me, these are signs of dangerous precedents. Everybody says there will be no pressure on the trial. And I see that there truly is no pressure from the side of the authorities. But if the courts are placed under severe pressure by the publix, then what’s the difference? The judge overseeing the trial would still feel pressured.”
Human rights advocates and colleagues of the lawyers have expressed their support.
Lawyer Argishti Kiviryan wrote on his Facebook page:
“As far as I understand, we should define who are ‘haters of the nation’ based on a Facebook vote and have them shot without a trial or investigation. What do you need defence and lawyers for?”
Human rights advocate Avetik Ishkhanyan says that the reason for this outbreak is the judicial illiteracy among a certain portion of the population.
“Our society still does not know what the rule of law or a fair investigation are. And I am particularly regretful of the fact that there are public figures among them.”
Discussions on Armenian-language Facebook pages concerning the arrest of Robert Kocharyan have been ongoing for about two weeks. Many users criticize the lawyers of the ex-president.
“You have spent your entire lives helping to hide these crimes. What a shame that this isn’t 1937, otherwise Kocharyan would have been shot long ago,” wrote one user.
“Has money blinded you? There is a limit to everything. Imagine that your loved ones were among the victims as well,” added another.