Armenia: Ex-president’s lawyer says politics drove charges

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — A lawyer for a former Armenian president says a wiretapped conversation shows the charges against Robert Kocharian are politically driven.

In the conversation released earlier this month, the top law enforcement chiefs discussed taking action against Kocharian and his top associate. They mentioned Prime Minister Nikola Pashinian’s order to put the ex-president and the associate behind bars.

Kocharian was arrested and released after two weeks in custody on charges of violating constitutional order for sending police and soldiers to disperse a March 2008 protest in Yerevan.

Defense lawyer Aik Alumian said Friday the wiretap shows his client’s rights were violated. Pashinian unexpectedly came to power this year after protests ousted his predecessor, who Kocharian backed.

Pashinian acknowledges the recording’s authenticity, but has described it as a provocation intended to obstruct justice.

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