YEREVAN — A Yerevan court has ordered the arrest of former President Robert Kocharian and placed him into custody for two months. The ex-president’s attorney Aram Orbelyan told reporters outside the courthouse shortly after midnight Friday.
“Tomorrow me and the [defense] team will present details at 12:00 at a press conference,” Kocharian’s attorney said.
Kocharian was charged on Thursday by the Special Investigative Service (SIS) with “overthrowing constitutional order of Armenia” during the final weeks of his rule. The SIS asked a Yerevan court to remand him in pre-trial custody.
The extraordinary move followed Kocharian’s first-ever interrogation by SIS officials investigating the use of lethal force against supporters of Levon Ter-Petrosian, the main opposition candidate in the February 2008 presidential election.
Kocharian rejected as baseless and politically motivated coup charges levelled against him by Armenian law-enforcement body investigating the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
“This is an absolutely fabricated accusation,” Kocharian told the Yerkir Media TV channel in an interview.
“This is clear political persecution, a vendetta by the ‘velvet revolution,”’ he said, adding that Armenia’s new government wants to “neutralize” him ahead of parliamentary elections expected in the coming months.
Kocharian said that the coup charges brought against him ran counter to the decisions of Armenia’s Central Election Commission and the Constitutional Court that validated the official election outcome. He insisted that Ter-Petrosian garnered only 21.5 percent of the vote.
“As incumbent head of state, I was the carrier and guarantor of constitutional order. Did I overthrow myself in some strange way?” he said.
Kocharian said SIS investigators told him right at the beginning of the interrogation that they now consider him a criminal suspect. “As soon as they changed my status I decided not to give testimony because when I read that indictment I was stunned,” he said.
The ex-president also made clear that he will not try to flee the country to avoid arrest. “I will go to jail and will fight till the end,” he said. “Where would I flee?”