YEREVAN—Armenia’s Criminal Court of Appeals on Monday ruled former president Robert Kocharian’s pre-trial custody as unconstitutional and immediately released him overturning a lower court decision, based on which he was remanded into custody after being charged with breaching Armenia’s constitutional order in connection with the March 1, 2008 post-elect standoff between protesters and police that resulted in the deaths of eight civilians and two police officers.
“We are satisfied with the court ruling,” said one of Kocharian’s attorneys, Ruben Sahakyan who explained that the ruling was based on article 140 of Armenia’s Constitution which stipulates that “during the term of his or her powers and thereafter, the President of the Republic may not be prosecuted and subjected to liability for actions deriving from his or her status.”
While Kocharian still stands accused of the charges, his attorney Sahakyan did not rule out the possibility that the entire case against Kocharian could be thrown out based on the same constitutional provision.
Kocharian was due to meet the press at a conference hall of the Erebuni Plaza hotel one day after Armenia’s Court of Appeals released him from custody. A group of protesters burst into the hotel in Yerevan, preventing him from holding a news conference there. Several dozen, mostly young protesters were chanting “Robert murderer!” They blamed him for the deaths of eight protesters and two police servicemen during the breakup on March 1-2, 2008 of opposition demonstrations held in the wake of a disputed presidential election.