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Former Armenian President Kocharyan's Trial Concludes Without a Decision on Bribery Charges

Updated: Jan 2

Former Armenian President Kocharyan's Trial Concludes Without a Decision on Bribery Charges

The trial of former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan concluded on Wednesday as the court in Yerevan accepted his plea based on the statute of limitations, despite his staunch denial of corruption charges leveled against him.

Kocharyan, who held office in Armenia from 1998 to 2008, was initially arrested in July 2018 following the "velvet revolution" that ushered Nikol Pashinyan into power. Initially facing charges related to a 2008 post-election crackdown on opposition protesters in Yerevan, Kocharyan was later accused of receiving a $3 million bribe from an Armenian businesswoman. Alongside his former chief of staff Armen Gevorgyan and two retired army generals, Kocharyan strongly contested these allegations, dismissing them as politically motivated and part of a "political vendetta" instigated by Pashinyan.

The coup charges against the defendants were invalidated by Armenia's Constitutional Court in 2021. However, Kocharian and Gevorgian remained on trial for the alleged bribery.

Judge Anna Danibekian, overseeing the trial, concluded the case without formally acquitting or convicting Kocharyan. She cited Kocharyan’s invocation of the statute of limitations, which expired in May of the current year, as reason for the trial's conclusion.

Kocharyan, previously refusing to plead under the statute of limitations and vowing to continue fighting for formal acquittal, altered his stance due to an urgent need for medical examination abroad, as conveyed by his lawyer, Mihran Poghosyan. In recent times, Danibekian had repeatedly denied Kocharyan permission to leave Armenia, according to Poghosyan's statements to reporters.

Released on bail in June 2020, Kocharyan’a trial conclusion means that the bail funds totaling 2 billion drams ($5 million) will be returned to his daughter, Gayane. Additionally, the presiding judge ordered the unfreezing of the assets belonging to the 69-year-old former president.

Despite the trial's end, Kocharyan, presently leading Armenia's largest opposition alliance, would not face imprisonment even if found guilty. This development marks a significant milestone in a contentious legal battle that has persisted for years, drawing widespread attention within and beyond Armenia's borders.


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