YEREVAN. – Gevorg Baghdasaryan, one of the prosecutors in the trial against Armenia’s second President Robert Kocharyan and several other former senior officials, is convinced that the recent acquittal verdict has nothing to do with justice. He stated about this to reporters after Tuesday’s court session.
As reported earlier, the trial in Kocharyan's case continues, but there are two defendants left: Kocharyan, and former Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgyan.
The two other defendants—former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan and former CSTO Secretary General Yuri Khachaturov—are no longer involved in this court process.
During the previous session, the court terminated—based on the decision of the Constitutional Court—all defendants’ prosecution under Article 300.1—overthrowing the constitutional order—of the Criminal Code, and Kocharyan, Gevorgyan, Ohanyan, and Khachaturov were acquitted under this article.
However, Kocharyan and Gevorgyan are accused not only of overthrowing the constitutional order.
The former president is charged with taking a bribe of $3 million, while the former deputy PM is accused of taking bribe and money laundering.
The prosecutor said that he did not have time to get acquainted with the court's aforesaid decision in detail, as he had just received it. "I am familiar with the publications of the [defense] attorneys; the arguments are not convincing. Moreover, the current situation is incompatible with justice. As a result of declaring the applied norm unconstitutional, there is a corpus delicti, whereas the person has been acquitted," the prosecutor said.
As for the bribe and the fact that the courts have admitted the absence of a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor stated that these were subjective assessments and the final decision should be made by the court.
Baghdasaryan did not agree with the opinion that if the judge had applied to the Constitutional Court through their motion, it would have violated the presumption of innocence.
"Is it justice when we are being deprived of the right to re-qualify the accusation? If the general norm is abolished but the private one remains and we are not allowed to use it, is that justice?" Baghdasaryan asked.
To note, the Constitutional Court had declared Article 300.1 of the Criminal Code imprecise and contradictory to Articles 78 and 79 of the Constitution.
In this regard, the Prosecutor General’s Office decided to challenge the existing legal regulations which do not allow re-qualifying the accusation under Article 309—abuse of official position—of the Criminal Code. Prosecutor Baghdasaryan admitted that Article 309 provides for a statute of limitations, but this provision could be applied only with the consent of the accused; that is, by choice: either continue the process with the hope of acquittal, or agree to be convicted under this article.
The Prosecutor General has already applied to the Constitutional Court, and the prosecutors have tried to motion to the same in court, but the latter denied.
In fact, it turned out that the prosecution did not propose to stop the criminal proceedings against the four defendants under an already non-existent article of the Criminal Code, but to wait for the decision of the Constitutional Court.
Baghdasaryan clarified that he does not consider Article 300.1 imprecise. According to the prosecutor, it turned out that in order to understand this article, it is necessary to read more books and expand one’s horizon. In his opinion, the Venice Commission also does not consider this article problematic.