Relatives of victims of March 1, 2008 riots in Armenia refuse to participate in trial of ex. pres. Kocharyan
Relatives of the victims of the tragic events of March 1, 2008 in Armenia have refused to attend court hearings in the case of the second President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan and other former high-ranking officials. This was announced on September 7 by their lawyer Tigran Yegoryan.
Yegoryan says the relatives believe the trial has turned into a farce, “and that some offices are sabotaging the case and resisting attempts to identify the true culprits.”
The March 1 case concerns the events of 2008, when military weapons were used during the dispersal of a demonstration of protesters who disagreed with the results of the presidential elections. Then, 10 people were killed.
In this case, the former President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan, who is accused of overthrowing the constitutional order, is in the dock, as he was the president at the time.
What the victims’ relatives say
Yegoryan accused the Armenian authorities of failing to find an effective solution to a number of problems.
“In the case of March 1, the prosecutor’s office did not demonstrate interest in a systematic and consistent investigation. As a result, many of them were able to evade justice. The presiding judge seems to be able to exercise his power only in relation to the legal successors of the victims, so we end our physical participation in this empty event.”
In addition, the lawyer considers the disappearance of materials on the March 1 case from the archives of the National Security Service as sabotage. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that documents disappeared from the archives of the main Armenian special service in May 2019.
“Obviously, the materials cover a wide spectrum of issues,” the prime minister said at the time.
What is Kocharyan accused of
Kocharyan was arrested on July 28, 2018, and accused of ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’ for ordering the dispersal of the protests back in 2008.
The government of Armenia, which came to power after the “velvet” revolution of 2018, treats this matter with special attention.
Kocharyan’s lawyers have repeatedly demanded a change in the preventive measure and three times they managed to get their client released from arrest. Kocharyan was last released on June 19, 2020, on bail in the amount of two billion drams [about $4 million] by a court of appeal ruling.
This is an unprecedentedly high amount of collateral for Armenia. The Prosecutor General’s Office filed a cassation appeal against the decision to release, but it has not yet been considered.
The trial on the so-called “March 1” case, in which the former president of Armenia is charged, continues.
Why the events of March 1, 2008 are so important for Prime Minister Pashinyan
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in Armenia as a result of the Velvet Revolution in the spring of 2018, advocated the disclosure of the “March 1” case long before he took office.
In the 2008 presidential elections, Nikol Pashinyan represented the interests of presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan. After the tragic events of March 1, the opposition figure went underground for a year and four months due to charges of ‘organizing mass riots’.
On July 1, 2010, he voluntarily appeared in the prosecutor’s office, was arrested and sentenced to seven years.
One year and 11 months later, he fell under an amnesty timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. The opposition claims that the authorities were forced to take this step under pressure from international structures.
Robert Kocharyan has openly and more than once stated that he is a categorical opponent of the new Armenian authorities.