YEREVAN—Armenia’s Special Investigative Service will have to wait until “after July 25” to question former president Robert Kocharian in its ongoing investigation into the March 1, 2008 post presidential election crackdown during which eight civilians and two police officers were killed.
Kocharian’s spokesperson, Victor Soghomonyan, on Monday signaled that the former president was ready to answer investigators’ questions.
Last week, the SIS announced that it had charged General Mikael Harutiunyan, Armenia’s defense minister at the time of the March 1, 2008 incident, with illegally mobilizing Armenia’s Armed forces against peaceful demonstrators, saying it amounted to a “breach of constitutional order.”
During the same announcement, the SIS said that it had summoned Kocharian to be questioned on the matter.
On Monday, Soghomonyan confirmed that Kocharian’s office had received a summons by the SIS, telling Azatutyun.am that the former president is not in Armenia, but is ready to answer the investigators’ questions “after July 25,” adding that Kocharian’s office has proposed to record the interrogation and make public “if need be.”
Soghomonyan also told Azatutyun.am that Kocharian is not worried about a possible indictment, as long as the investigative services respect Armenia’s law. The spokesperson called the charged made against Harutiunyan a “mockery of the law.”
On July 3, the SIS issued a detailed announcement on the charges filed against Harutiunyan, saying that the former defense minister allegedly with “other individuals” used Armenia’s armed forces against protesters, calling it a “breach of constitutional order.”
In the same conclusion, the SIS said that the February 2008 presidential elections, during which Serzh Sarkisian was elected president, was marred by “large-scale irregularities,” which sparked the anti-government protests by factions loyal to Armenia’s fist president, Levon Ter-Petrossian who lost the election, according to official results.
In its detailed statement, the SIS charged that on February 23, 2008, Harutiunyan secretly and illegally ordered the army to help enforce the official vote results. Military units began moving in to Yerevan in the following days and were actively engaged in the ensuing crackdown that resulted in the 10 deaths.
The SIS statement said that the “de facto martial law” regime created by the deployment of the army violated constitutional provisions guaranteeing the military’s neutrality.
“A number of high-ranking officials of the acting authorities, including Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunyan, carried out actions aimed at violently breaching the constitutional order in the Republic of Armenia,” read the SIS statement based on which the charges were brought against the 72-year-old Harutiunyan, who served as the Armed Forces chief of staff from 1994 to 2007, before being named defense minister by Kocharian.