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November 21
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has accepted a request for an advisory opinion from the Constitutional Court (CC) of Armenia, and has constituted a Grand Chamber of 17 judges to consider it.

The aforesaid request was submitted on the basis of the appeals by a capital city Yerevan court of first instance and second President Robert Kocharyan, and on the cases which the CC has accepted for consideration along the lines of the criminal case into the events that occurred in Yerevan in March 2008.

According to the ECHR’s respective official information, the aforesaid request for an advisory opinion was introduced on September 2, and on October 2, it was accepted by the Panel of the ECHR Grand Chamber.

The President of the Grand Chamber of 17 judges has also established a timeframe for submissions from the parties to the domestic proceedings, or other interested parties, including the Armenian government and the Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Armenian CC’s request is related to the constitutionality of Article 300.1 of the country’s criminal code which penalizes the overthrowing of the constitutional order.

The President of the Grand Chamber has invited the parties to these domestic proceedings before the CC, namely the National Assembly of Armenia and ex-President Kocharyan, to submit written observations by November 19.

On July 18, the CC decided to suspend—on the basis of the appeals by a Yerevan court of first instance and second President Robert Kocharyan—the case proceedings on determining of the constitutionality of Article 300.1, and petitioned to the European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission for a respective advisory opinion. The said case proceedings have been suspended pending receiving these advisory opinions.

Ex-President Robert Kocharyan is charged with overthrowing the constitutional order in Armenia in connection with the events that occurred in Yerevan in March 2008, and taking a particularly large bribe. He has been remanded in custody three times within one year; the last one was on June 25, by the decision of the Criminal Court of Appeal.

On March 1 and 2, 2008 the then authorities of Armenia used force against the opposition members who were rallying in downtown Yerevan, and against the results of the presidential election on February 19, 2008. Eight demonstrators as well as two servicemen of the internal troops were killed in the clashes.

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