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Seda Ghukasyan

Special Investigative Service Chief Says Kocharyan Could Influence Trial if Released from Detention

Special Investigative Service (SIS) Chief Sasun Khachatryan told reporters today that it’s necessary to keep Robert Kocharyan, Armenia’s second president, in pre-trial detention because he could influence those investigating the charges levied against him.

On July 27, a Yerevan court decided to detain Robert Kocharyan after he was charged of “usurping state power” during the March 1-2, 2008 public protests in Yerevan that claimed the lives of ten individuals.

Khachatryan said that detaining people wasn’t only done to prevent them from fleeing during their trial.

“I believe it’s imperative to detain Robert Kocharyan in order to conduct a full investigation,” said the SIS official.

45 Armenian MPs have signed a petition to have Kocharyan released from pre-trial detention, according to Viktor Soghomonyan, who heads Kocharyan’s office.

The petition was organized by the Republican Party of Armenia, which ruled Armenia for the past twenty years until Serzh Sargsyan was ousted as prime minister this past April.

Khachatryan brushed aside claims made by Kocharyan’s lawyers that Prime Minister Pashinyan’s government is pursuing a political vendetta against their client and that the charge itself is legally illiterate.

“I won’t stoop to that level, and I will refrain from personal insults. The basis for the charge is clear and fully sustained. Such statements are not only incomprehensible but somewhat amusing,” Khachatryan said.

The SIS official said that nothing illegal or out of the ordinary happened when Kocharyan was invited to merely testify about the March 1-2, 2008 events, only to be legally charged soon afterwards.

“Criminal cases are dynamic. Evidence is constantly procured, and a person’s status depends on that evidence,” Khachatryan said.

When asked if ex-Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan and former prime minister Hovik Abrahamyan would be questioned in the case, Khachatryan said while such a decision is up to the chief investigator, all current and former officials believed to possess relevant information will be called to give testimony.