YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Two supporters of Robert Kocharian were arrested at the weekend on charges of harassing the judge presiding over the trial of Armenia’s jailed former president.
In an incident broadcast live on Facebook, the young men approached and pursued the judge, Anna Danibekyan, as she walked towards a district court in Yerevan late on Friday. One of them, Narek Mutafyan, persistently asked Danibekyan whether she believes she is among those “whimpering” judges that were lambasted by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently.
Danibekyan complained to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), a body overseeing Armenian courts, about the incident before Mutafyan and the other man, Sargis Ohanjanyan, were arrested by police. They both were charged with interfering in the work of a court for the purpose of “obstruction of justice.”
If convicted, they will face heavy fines and up to two years in prison. Mutafyan reportedly testified that he did not mean to bully or pressure the judge.
In a statement, the SJC said the pro-Kocharian youths insulted Danibekyan and tried to put “psychological pressure” on the 41-year-old judge through “inappropriate questioning.” Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan, also condemned them.
Danibekyan took over Kocharyan’s trial after another judge Davit Grigoryan was charged with forgery and suspended by the SJC in August.
Immediately after Kocharian’s trial resumed on September 12 the defense lawyers petitioned Danibekyan to release their client, citing the Constitutional Court’s decision to declare unconstitutional a legal provision used by investigators against him. The judge ruled on September 17 that the Constitutional Court’s decision does not apply to the man who ruled Armenia from 1998-2008. Three days later she also refused to grant Kocharian bail.
Kocharian is prosecuted on corruption and coup charges mostly stemming from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan. He rejects the accusations as politically motivated.