As the criminal proceeding against Robert Kocharyan is going on, with the second president remaining in custody, the judiciary authorities continue to remain under a strong pressure in Armenia, according to a public defender.
At a news conference on Thursday, Lusine Sahakyan criticized the governing political force for the repeated calls for the terminating the authority of Hrayr Tovmasyan, the president of the Constitutional Court. In her words, such policies “fall within the same logic” as the public campaign of blocking the courthouses several months ago (after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced a plan to initiate a mandatory vetting of judges). Sahakyan blamed the lawmakers of the ruling My Step faction for exercising pressures against Alexander Azaryan and David Grigoryan, former judges in the criminal case against the ex-president.
The lawyer said she is under the impression that the authorities intentionally targeted the Constitutional Court with the perfect understanding that they would be unable to control its actions after the case was brought under its proceeding.
“What matters to me most of all is that the judiciary is under serious pressure in connection with one case alone,” Sahakyan said, accusing the government of actions “not befitting a rule-of-law country.”
“The executive is evidently trying its best to exercise control over the courts – including the Constitutional Court – and seeing its inability to apply its control to all the judges, it resorts this kind of steps,” she added.
The lawyer also highlighted the separation of powers as a key principle “ruling out any pressure upon the judiciary” by the executive authorities.
“But the executive is intervening in the judiciary’s affairs. And that intervention began actually long ago in an attempt to exert pressure in a kind of hidden way. After the wiretapped conversations went viral, however, the authorities resorted to public pressure in a direct manner,” she said, expressing strong concerns over potential hazards to the state administration system.
A first instance court in Yerevan on Tuesday rejected the former president’s latest demand for his release from prison which followed a Constitutional Court ruling on coup charges brought against him.
Kocharyan, along with other former high-ranking government officials, is facing prosecution in connection with breaching Armenia’s constitutional order in the period of the deadly 2008 post-electoral events.