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Law-enforcement authorities in Armenia said on Monday that they have yet to track down and catch two convicts who escaped late last week from the country’s largest prison where they served life sentences for murder.


According to the Ministry of Justice, Soghomon Kocharian and Mher Yenokian fled Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison on Friday evening. Citing unnamed law-enforcement sources, the daily “Aravot” reported the next morning that they disappeared during a regular walk in the Nubarashen courtyard to sneak out of the sixth floor of a prison building with the help of a rope.

The two inmates, who had been sentenced in separate murder cases, already escaped from another prison located in the southeastern town of Goris five years ago. They were hunted down and transferred to Nubarashen more than two months later.

Armenia -- The two convicts who escaped from Yerevans Nubarashen prison on November 27, 2009.
The Ministry of Justice, which manages Armenia’s penitentiary system, said law-enforcement bodies are taking “appropriate measures to discover the convicts.” A ministry statement said the operation is being led by the Special Investigative Service, a law-enforcement body subordinated to state prosecutors.

“Given the secrecy of the investigation, no other data can be presented for publication at our initiative,” added the statement.

The brazen prison flight occurred the day after the Nubarashen administration was placed under investigation over the publication of a photograph showing the editor of a controversial pro-government newspaper in the company of three other men serving life sentences for politically motivated killings. Two of them, Derenik Bejanian and Eduard Grigorian, were among the gunmen that had burst into Armenia’s parliament in October 1999, killing its speaker Karen Demirchian, Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and six other officials.

Speaking to RFE/RL on Friday, Artyom Khachatrian of the “Azatamtutyun” daily admitted being friends with the inmates. But he claimed to have visited them for journalistic interviews and denied violating prison security rules.

The Ministry of Justice said the same day that an “internal inquiry” ordered by Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian will determine whether there was a breach of those rules on the part of prison guards. The pro-opposition daily “Haykakan Zhamanak,” which published the scandalous photo, insisted that journalists and other visitors are not allowed to meet more than one prisoner at a time.
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