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Yerevan Robberies Solved, Insist Police


Armenia - Police apprehend alleged members of a gang suspected of committing high-profile robberies, Yerevan, 23Sep2011

Armenia - Police apprehend alleged members of a gang suspected of committing high-profile robberies, Yerevan, 23Sep2011

The Armenian police insisted on Wednesday that they have busted a gang responsible for a series of daring robberies of homes belonging to wealthy government-linked individuals.


A senior police official dealing with the case, Mushegh Babayan, said seven people are currently under arrest pending trial on related charges. “Six of them are members of the gang, including the ringleader, Artush Hakobian,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Babayan said the seven suspects have been charged with illegal drug possession. The official described him as a relative of Gurgen Hayrapetian, a man who died on September 23 while a car carrying him and two other individuals was chased by police in Yerevan.

The police reported more than a dozen arrests on that day. Top law-enforcement officials expressed confidence that most of the detainees were members of the criminal group that carried out the recent robberies.

Armenia - A crashed car that was chased by police officers investigating a series of robberies in Yerevan, 23Sep2011.

The armed attacks 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.

“It is possible that the investigation will reveal individuals who helped the gang at various times and by various means and they will be held accountable too,” said Babayan. “The investigation is still going on in that direction.”

According to media reports, Hakobian, the alleged ringleader, has a prior criminal record and recently fled a psychiatric clinic where he had been placed for mandatory treatment. The police have not denied those reports.

Hakobian’s father Surik last week strongly denied the charges brought against his son and claimed that they are aimed at forcing his family to give up a well-known bakery owned by it. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, he said that the police also arrested Artush’s Georgian wife, Marina Giorgadze, and questioned his second son Andranik.

Armenian state prosecutors confirmed Giorgadze’s arrest but said it had nothing to do with the robbery case. They said Giorgadze is wanted by Georgian law-enforcement bodies on suspicion of fraud committed in Georgia.
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