YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Former President Robert Kocharian was again taken into custody on Friday after an Armenian court allowed his pre-trial arrest on charges stemming from the deadly break-up of 2008 post-election protests in Yerevan. Earlier in the day, appeals court in Armenia reinstated the pretrial detention of Kocharian, who is accused of overthrowing the country’s constitutional system.
Kocharian reiterated his claims that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian is waging a political “vendetta” against him as he headed to a prison in the Armenian capital following the decision made by the Court of Appeals.
Kocharian’s lawyer, Haik Alumian, told reporters in Yerevan that the court issued the ruling for his client to be arrested on December 7, two days before the country holds snap parliamentary elections. Alumian said the ruling will be appealed.
Kocharian was initially arrested in July on charges stemming from his government’s deadly repression of opposition protesters during the final weeks of his 1998-2008 rule.
He is accused of illegally ordering soldiers to use force against opposition supporters who were protesting against alleged fraud in the disputed presidential election of February 2008.
Eight protesters and two police were killed when security forces engaged in clashes with the protesters on March 1-2, 2008.
Kocharian denies the accusations, saying the current government was waging a political “vendetta” against him.
Kocharian, 64, was freed on August 13 by a court of appeals that ruled that the constitution gave him immunity from prosecution in connection with the 2008 violence.
Kocharian announced he was returning to politics just days after his release from a Yerevan detention center where he was being held.
Since then, he has repeatedly accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government of endangering the country’s national security, undermining its relations with Russia, and lacking economic programs.
However, Kocharian has decided not run in the snap parliamentary elections scheduled for December 9.
Pashinian has defended the criminal charges against Kocharian, declaring on August 17 that “All murderers will go to prison.”