One man died and several others were arrested in Yerevan on Friday as police claimed to have busted a gang responsible for a series of daring robberies of homes belonging to wealthy government-linked individuals.
Security forces blocked a major city thoroughfare after a car carrying three men reportedly hit a street pole while being chased by police vehicles. Police officers said two of them were arrested on the spot while the other fell to his death from a nearby cliff as he tried to escape.
The dead man, apparently in his 40s, could be seen lying on the street sidewalk later in the morning. He was bare-chested and wore shorts. The police did not identify him and the other men.
Major-General Nerses Nazarian, chief of Yerevan’s police department, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the police also arrested at least three other suspects in “another place” in the capital. He said they confiscated large quantities of weapons.
Nazarian expressed confidence that the suspects were members of the criminal group that carried out the recent robberies. “That is my internal conviction,” he said, adding that more arrests are possible.
“Rest assured that all the guilty will get a deserved punishment,” added the official.
The armed attacks reported by the police targeted the Yerevan houses of five wealthy individuals, including a former parliament deputy and a former mayor of the city’s Malatia-Sebastia district. They reportedly followed the same pattern, with masked men breaking into the mansions early in the morning, beating up their owners and stealing cash and other valuables.
The chief of the Armenian police, Lieutenant-General Alik Sargsian, pledged last month to “do everything to quickly solve those crimes.” He said he formed a special team of high-ranking police detectives for that purpose.
Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian criticized the police inquiry earlier in August. Hovsepian said that the police would have neutralized the alleged gang had they properly responded to the first two robberies.