During the court hearing on the custody of the ex-president Robert Kocharyan, his barrister Haik Alumyan quoted parts from the testimony of the third president Serzh Sargsyan. Serzh Sargsyan has been questioned as witness to the case of March 1.
Alumyan said Serzh Sargsyan has directly denied Nikol Pashinyan’s advisor, Major-General Arshak Karapetyan’s words, informing that he does not remember details of the meeting on 23 February 2008. “The meeting was called by Robert Kocharyan, with the high-ranking military of the Armed Forces. The general purpose was to warn the leadership of the Armed Forces that the leaders of the demonstrators were involving the officers of the Armed Forces in those processes.”
Alumyan thinks this is a very important excerpt. In other words, the purpose of the meeting was to warn the officers of the Armed Forces not to become involved in the process.
Serzh Sargsyan said that one of the deputy ministers of defense joined the demonstrators, negotiations were going on to involve the other deputy minister. “So, it was necessary not to allow and to prevent all that,” he said.
According to Haik Alumyan, the leaders of protests were doing everything they could to involve the army officers in the processes. And it was necessary to prevent this. According to the barrister, it was hard to imagine the disastrous consequences that would follow had the opposition leaders succeeded.
He continued to share excerpts from Serzh Sargsyan’s testimony. “And it was the rationale that the Armenian president correctly instructed that either they resign from the Armed Forces, remain in Yerkrapah Union of Volunteers, or resign from Yerkrapah Union of Volunteers and perform their official duties.” According to Haik Alumyan, Serzh Sargsyan’s testimony indicates what the barristers and Kocharyan have been doing since last July.
The investigator had asked Serzh Sargsyan the following: “The investigation received information that during the meeting with the high command of the Ministry of Defense on 23 February 2008 when there was no information that the protests were not peaceful, President Kocharyan gave a verbal order: ‘State of emergency is declared at midnight’.”
On the same day, the minister of defense Mikayel Harutiunyan issued the top secret order 0038 which triggered the mechanism of using the army as is supposed during martial law. As of 23 February 2008 there was information about toppling constitutional order, encroaching upon internal security, which was the basis for the use of the Armed Forces.
Serzh Sargsyan gave the following answer: “I think that your opinion is a wrong opinion. I don’t remember such words by Kocharyan, that did not happen. Bringing the armed forces to readiness has nothing to do with the martial law. And frankly speaking, if I had been the minister of defense then, I would have done the same, I would have signed an order to bring the troops to readiness. And I think at that time it was the most effective means to keep the army from political influences, interferences.”
The investigator asked Serzh Sargsyan: “Was that you that told Robert Kocharyan, after he said that a state of emergency was declared at midnight, that the chief of the garrison of Yerevan needed deputies.” According to Alumyan, this is not a respected trick. Serzh Sargsyan said: “I repeat that Robert Kocharyan did not say anything like that about declaring a state of emergency. Second, I do not rule out that I could have just asked whether the chief of the garrison has deputies or not. Having been minister of defense for 9 years I said that every commander must have deputies to be able to implement their objectives.”
In other words, according to Alumyan, Serzh Sargsyan clearly denied that there was an order from Robert Kocharyan to declare a state of emergency. However, Arshak Karapetyan had clearly stated that Robert Kocharyan said during the meeting on February 23:“State of emergency is declared at midnight.”