The Armenian police pledged on Thursday to spare no effort to identify and prosecute those responsible for a series of high-profile robberies in Yerevan.
“I want to assure you that we will do everything to quickly solve those crimes because they are fraught with much more dangerous consequences,” Lieutenant-General Alik Sargsian, the chief of the national police service, told journalists. “Otherwise, we would have a more disgraceful picture.”
Sargsian referred to recent months’ armed attacks on the Yerevan houses of five wealthy individuals, including a former parliament deputy and a former mayor of the city’s Malatia-Sebastia district. They have reportedly followed the same pattern, with masked men breaking into the mansions early in the morning, beating up their owners and stealing large amounts of cash and other valuables.
The police and state prosecutors believe that all five robberies were the work of a single armed gang. They have not arrested anyone yet.
Sargsian confirmed that the criminal investigation into the robberies is conducted by a special team of high-ranking police officers. “It operates under my personal oversight,” he said.
“We have certain information that needs to be seriously processed,” he said without going into details.
The police inquiry was criticized by Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian on Tuesday. Hovsepian said that the police would have neutralized the gang had they properly responded to the first two robberies.
Sargsian seemed less than happy with the criticism. “Yes, there were some shortcomings,” he said. “There was some lack of consistency, lack of correct analysis. It would have been desirable to avoid that. But people, let us be a bit realistic. Not all crimes are solved in three or five days.”
The police chief also suggested that the presumed gang may well comprise former police or other security officers. “Our analyses do not exclude that because when committing the crimes they demonstrated such skills that we presume they used to serve in special forces within our system,” he said.
“They act very skillfully,” added Sargsian. “They try to avoid the kinds of mistakes that criminals often commit at the site of a crime.”