YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) has officially prohibited former Armenian President Robert Kocharian from traveling abroad pending investigation into a criminal case in which coup charges have been brought against him.
SIS spokesperson Marina Ohanjanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday that investigators have decided to apply a measure of restraint called “a written undertaking not to leave the country” in relation to Kocharian, who is charged in connection with deadly 2008 post-election events during which he allegedly overthrew Armenia’s constitutional order.
Kocharian spent more than two weeks in custody last summer. The Court of Appeals on August 13 overturned a district court’s July 27 decision to allow Kocharian’s arrest. It said that the Armenian constitution gives the ex-president immunity from prosecution. The Prosecutor’s Office has appealed the court’s decision at Armenia’s highest judicial instance – the Court of Cassation, which is still to consider the case. Meanwhile, Kocharian has filed a counterclaim with the Court of Cassation after his lawyers said he was not fully satisfied with the August 13 ruling. Kocharian insists that there are no grounds for his prosecution and that he is being prosecuted for political motives.
Kocharian, who ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, stands accused of illegally using the armed forces against opposition supporters who protested against alleged fraud in a disputed presidential election held in February 2008. Eight protesters and two police personnel were killed when security forces broke up those demonstrations on March 1-2, 2008.
Kocharian announced his return to active politics on August 16.
The SIS’s decision comes one day after one of Kocharian’s lawyers, Aram Orbelian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that his client intends to go to Germany for an annual medical examination. “There is no measure of restraint against Kocharian, but the ex-president’s passport is kept by the law-enforcement bodies,” Orbelian explained on Monday.
Orbelian said today that he and other lawyers working for Kocharian will peruse the SIS’s decision before commenting on the matter on Wednesday.