Thursday, 20 June 2019

E Editorial

The Kocharyan case: when the public does not trust the justice system

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The snap elections for the National Assembly of Armenia did not surprise us at all. The balance of power turned out to be what everyone expected. Post-revolutionary atmosphere in the country dictated its conditions. According to many observers, there no such boring elections were ever held in Armenia. The only intrigue of the moment was the re-arrest of the second President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan - rather, not the arrest itself, but the protest action of his supporters following it. Judging by the number of video views of this action, the interest in it was very large (although the action itself was small). Feedback is mostly negative.

However, if you look at the Kocharyan’s case more deeply, you can see a deeper meaning in the processes that have unfolded around him. We are dealing with several important aspects of the social and political life of society. First, will the “ex-rulers” be able to fight for their rights? And second, is the Armenian society capable of rooting the justice system in the country? It seems that everything is quite difficult.

Referring to the action itself. The only speaker -- the organizer of the action himself, urged the participants that the criminal case against Kocharyan and his arrest are evidence that the new authorities of Armenia are persecuting their opponents out of a sense of revenge. Moreover, he focused solely on one aspect of the problem: purposeful persecution of “war heroes”. Even historical parallels of a century ago were made. He assured those present that the fate of Kocharyan was comparable to the fate of the leaders of the First Armenian Republic destroyed by the Bolsheviks. That is, he tried to convince everyone that anti-national and anti-state intentions manifest themselves in the actions of the new authorities of Armenia.

The arguments of Kocharyan’s advocates on “legal arbitrariness”, on “selective approach to former politicians”, on dictatorship of executive power over justice system have somehow faded from the arguments of the protesters. The concept of “targeted destruction of state security principles" came up. That is, the task was set to prevent the very fact of the trial against the second president of Armenia. It is difficult to say exactly in what they saw as the effectiveness of such a concept. But the supporters of the current authorities who appeared among the protesters and entered into polemics with them very quickly demonstrated the wretchedness of the arguments of the former. They simply convinced everyone that no merit, even heroic, can be an excuse for serious crimes. And since Kocharyan is accused in the "March 1, 2008" case, no one has the right to oppose justice.

Admittedly, the situation is ambiguous - any argument hangs in the air. Similar disputes were recently in the case of “Daredevils of Sassoun”. Again, the defenders of the latter opposed their trial, referring to the argument about the heroism of the members of the group, who opposed the regime with arms. A similar problem manifested itself in Armenia back in the year 2000. Then the former commander of the Karabakh army S. Babayan was arrested. And then his supporters represented the case as "the persecution of the hero." The periodic emergence of this concept in the political life of the country is connected with one very important circumstance: society does not trust the justice system. Accordingly, no court decision is perceived as fair. And, often, it allows those who fell into disgrace to mobilize significant waves of protest against attempts to conduct trials against them. Legal reasoning is replaced by mythology. Thus, the justice system is at an impasse.

There can be no justice if there is no wide public confidence in the justice system.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

Yerznkian 75, 0033
Yerevan, Armenia


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