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4 Constitutional Court Judges Should Not Participate in Kocharyan Claim Hearings

One year ago, lawyer Tigran Yegoryan, representing the interests of the successors of March 1 victims, submitted a claim to the Constitutional Court with justifications that 7 of the Court members cannot participate in the hearing of Kocharyan’s claim. Robert Kocharyan, second president of Armenia indicted for toppling the constitutional order in 2008, when his regime cracked down the peaceful protests against rigged elections, brought a claim to the Court disputing that Article 300.1 of the Criminal Code could be applied to him for reasons of his presidential immunity and due to the fact that this article was adopted later than 2008, and replaced the article on “usurpation of power”. The claim was also supported by first instance court judge Davit Grigoryan hearing Kocharyan’s case.

The Constitutional Court, an institution with members largely supporting the former authorities and their actions, turned to the European Court for Human Rights for a commentary on the case and received a response by which the Court was unable to give specific answers as the questions posed by Armenia’s Constitutional Court were too abstract.

Back then, Yegoryan questioned the capacity of judges Hrayr Tovmasyan (former Chairman of the Court), Alvina Gyulumyan, Arayik Tunyan, Hrant Nazaryan, Felix Toghyan, Ashot Khachatryan and Arevik Petrosyan. He claimed that for reasons of bias towards Kocharyan and anticonstitutional decisions made by the court favoring Kocharyan’s authorities, they could not hear a claim brought by him. Of these, Alvinya Gyulumyan’s, Felix Toghyan’s, Hrant Nazaryan’s powers are terminated as of June 26 based on the law adopted by the Parliament not allowing judges with over 12 years of tenure at the Constitutional Court to continue their work. This was a requirement of the Constitution adopted in 2015, which was overturned with questionable transitional clauses.

Now, attorney Yegoryan resubmitted their claim pointing out that participation of remaining four judges continues to be unacceptable and adding new evidences of.

Despite the fact that after the amendments to the Constitution of Armenia, by which the transitional clauses were removed and the key clauses entered into force, Kocharyan’s attorney Aram Orbelyan declared that they were withdrawing their claim, the Constitutional Court has not expressed its position of whether the hearings will be dropped or not.

Nonetheless, the hearing appointed on July 7, 2020 was not held due to lack of quorum.

In relation to judges Hrant Nazaryan and Felix Tokhyan, Yegoryan questioned their impartiality to discuss a matter in which they had expressed a clear position yet in 2008. They were members of the Constitutional Court when they received a complaint to consider the elections of 2008 rigged and the presidential order to declare a state of emergency unlawful. The Court dismissed the complaint back then, however years later, through wikileaks, it became known that judge Valery Poghosyan confessed to a US diplomat that the Court made the decision under President Kocharyan’s direct pressure. This means that these judges cannot act in an impartial manner.

In relation to judge Arevik Petrosyan, arguments point to her position in the parliament as Deputy Speaker representing Prosperous Armenia party who voted in favor of declaring a state of emergency in 2008. She, therefore has a clear position in relation to Kocharyan’s case of toppling the constitutional order.

In relation to judge Ashot Khachatryan, he was the head of the National Assembly’s Legal department from 2004 to 2010 and was in charge of giving expert examination to the laws and drafts discussed by the Parliament and in essence was part of the legislative process. He approved all the assessments and parliamentary approvals of executive orders in 2008. 

Judge Arayik Tunyan worked at the staff of the president, was head of the president’s staff’s Legal Department from 2007 to 2014. He approved Kocharyan’s executive order for bringing a state of emergency in 2008.

Alvina Gyulumyan was appointed through dark procedures a national candidate for the European Court of Human Rights in 2003 during Kocharyan’s presidency and enjoyed Kocharyan’s and Serj Sargsyan’s high patronage as a judge of the European Court for Human Rights..

Tigran Yegoryan adds that Hrayr Tovmasyan’s participation is unacceptable due to his interactions with Aram Orbelyan, Kocharyan’s attorney, and Mihran Poghosyan, Khachaturovs attorney, his membership to the Republican party and active participation in the party’s policies, his position as a Minister of Justice under whom none of the victims of March 1 received justice in Armenia.

It is noteworthy that one of the recent members of the Constitutional Court, Vahe Grigoryan will not participate in the hearings of this case due to the fact that he represented the victims of the March 1 crack-down.