Court is scheduled to hear appeal on Kocharian’s sentencing on Thursday
YEREVAN—In an effort to shed more light on the prosecution’s case against former president Robert Kocharian, Armenia’s chief investigator on Friday presented segments of a previously classified order signed ahead of the March 1, 2008 unrest, during which eight civilians and two police officers were killed during a standoff between police and protesters. On a related matter, a court in Yerevan has decided to hear the appeal of Kocharian’s remand on Thursday, August 9.
The head of Armenia’s Special Investigation Service, Sasun Khachatryan, said that he had partially declassified a “highly confidential order N0038” that was signed by Armenia’s former defense minister Mikayel Hrutyunyan, who like Kocharian is facing charges of “breaching Armenia’s Constitutional order” in relation to the March 1, 2008 events.
Khachatryan said the order, which essentially called for the arming of special security forces, was signed at “18:00 [6 p.m.] on February 23, 2008,” almost a week before the May 1 events of that year. He added that the SIS had come into possession of the order last month.
“The order, in fact proves that the Armed Forces of Armenia participated in the incidents of March 1,” said Khachatryan said, adding that he has declassified certain portions of the document, which have been shared with the Kocharian’s defense team.
“After the international community recognized the presidential elections of Armenia as open and transparent, some political forces did not accept that and tried to destabilize the situation by illegal actions. The Armed Forces of Armenia, being the guarantors of the state’s security are prepared to ensure stability in the country based on the Constitution and laws and to prevent any group of people to hinder the natural development of the country,” said the declassified order, which was read by Khachatryan to reporters
“For the fulfillment of the Constitutional obligations by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia I [then defense minister Mikayel Hrutyunyan] order to confine to barracks the entire personnel of the Armed Forces starting from 18:00 February 23 until receiving a special command, to set officer groups in the departments of the central apparatus of the Defense Ministry and separate divisions and arm them with government-issue weapon,” said Khachatryan quoting from the declassified report. He also said that then Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Khachaturov was responsible to fulfill this task. Khachaturov, who currently the Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, has also been charged with “breaching Armenia’s Constitutional order,” and was freed on bail and allowed to travel to Moscow to continue his duties, pending a court appearance order.
“The heads of departments of the Defense Ministry and Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, the Commanders of Army Corps and separate regiments have been ordered to set combined mobile units able to act effectively in difficult conditions,” said the order.
“The 10th point of the same order says that these units should be comprised of the best trained, psychologically stable officers, non-commissioned officers, contractual servicemen and conscripts,” said Khachatryan citing order and calling this point the most incriminating part of the 2008 document.
“I don’t know what impression you got from this, but I have the impression that special groups were set up and tasked to conduct some diversionist acts against the adversaries,”Khachatryan said.
Last week Khachatryan said that detaining Kocharian was the proper course of action to ensure the unimpeded continuation of the investigation, explaining that his office did not deem Kocharian a flight risk, but feared that if he is set free he could influence others involved with the investigation.
His attorneys contend that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to hold Kocharian.
Before detailing the 2008 order, Khachatryan expressed hope that the court of appeals would not change the initial terms of the indictment and will keep Kocharian remanded until his trial.
“This is my personal opinion, and I think that the preventive detention is the only measure that can ensure the proper behavior of the defendant during the investigation,” said Khachatryan who explained the Kocharian has refused to provide any testimony.
“He just did not participate and left the room without any explanations,” said Khachatryan.