Armenian ex-leader, Kocharyan arrested on allegation of abuse of power

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A former president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, was arrested on Tuesday on an allegation that he abused his power in authorizing a violent crackdown on protests more than a decade ago.

Kocharyan, who served as prime minister from 1997 to 1998 and president from 1998 to 2008, is accused of unlawfully ordering the military to intervene in protests just before the end of his tenure as president.

Kocharyan voluntarily entered into custody at a jail in the capital Yerevan to comply with a court decision to remand him pending trial, state news agency Armenpress reported.

“I think you witnessed that there is neither law nor rule of law,” he told reporters in response to the court ruling.

The country’s current leader, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, swept to power amid a series of protests last year in which he vowed to root out entrenched corruption in the former Soviet republic.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Kocharyan’s declaration of a state of emergency in March 2008, following a disputed election led to the death of at least ten people in clashes between police and protesters.

He was freed on bail of 1 million drams ($2000). He faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Kocharyan told Reuters earlier in May that powerful opposition forces were coming together to challenge the country’s new leadership soon, and that he hoped to be among them.

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