Sat, 24 Oct 2020

YEREVAN -- Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian, who has been charged with bribery and overthrowing the constitutional order, has left Armenia for the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have been fighting since September 27.

Kocharian's lawyer Hovhaness Khudoyan told RFE/RL about his client's departure for Nagorno-Karabakh on September 29.

Kocharian was arrested in July 2018 and is now standing trial along with three other former officials on charges stemming from his alleged role in a 2008 postelection crackdown on the opposition, as well as for taking bribes.

The former head of state faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which he rejects as politically motivated.

He was released on bail on June 18.

Kocharian, a native of Nagorno-Karabakh, was one of the leaders of the region's separatist forces and was Nagorno-Karabakh's first de facto president between December 1994 and March 1997.

Earlier, a lawyer of Kocharian's codefendant, former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, said his client had also left for the Nagorno-Karabakh 'to assist' the unrecognized region's armed forces during the ongoing military conflict with Azerbaijan.

Ohanian is also a native of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and used to serve as de facto defense minister of the region between 1999-2007.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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