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Fugitive Armenian Lifers Caught


Armenia -- Soghomon Kocharian (L) and Mher Yenokian, the two convicts who escaped from Yerevan's Nubarashen prison on November 27, 2009.

Armenia -- Soghomon Kocharian (L) and Mher Yenokian, the two convicts who escaped from Yerevan's Nubarashen prison on November 27, 2009.

Law-enforcement authorities announced at the weekend the capture of two men who escaped from Armenia’s largest prison late last month in still unclear circumstances.


The convicts, Mher Yenokian and Soghomon Kocharian, were serving life sentences in the Nubarashen prison just outside Yerevan for murder. They had already escaped from another Armenian jail in 2002.

According to Justice Ministry department managing Armenia’s penitentiary system, Yenokian was caught by law-enforcement officials on a busy street intersection in downtown Yerevan on Friday evening. A statement by the department said Kocharian was tracked down and arrested in a village in the central Aragatsotn region five hours later.

No further details were reported. It was thus not clear whether law-enforcement acted on a tip-off from citizens. They promised earlier this month a “financial reward” for any information that would help them hunt down the fugitives.

The brazen escape led to the resignation of the Nubarashen chief, Arsen Afrikian, and the arrest and prosecution of several prison officials, including one of his deputies. They were charged with “operational negligence” which prosecutors believe enabled Kocharian and Yenokian to break free on November 27.

In a December 2 statement, the Office of the Prosecutor-General confirmed reports that the two men climbed down a rope from the roof of a Nubarashen building after they and other prisoners were taken to a sixth-floor courtyard for a regular walk. It said prison guards failed to ensure a “proper surveillance” of the inmates.

The statement said Kocharian and Yenokian were left unattended “for a long period of time.” The guards, if found guilty, will face up to five years in prison.

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