Law-enforcement authorities have launched a criminal investigation into what they described on Friday as a riot that broke out at Armenia’s largest prison earlier this week.
The head of the Nubarashen prison located in a southern Yerevan suburb was suspended by Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian on Wednesday pending an inquiry into possible abuse of power. The move was announced the day after law-enforcement officers raided the Soviet-era penitentiary institution and met with resistance from some of its inmates.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee reported more details of the incident on Friday. In a statement, it said that one of the inmates provoked “disturbances” after learning that his prison cell will searched in accordance with a court order.
“Prisoners kicked the doors of their cells, shouted abuse, and threw various objects at law-enforcement officers,” read the statement.
“Necessary measures are being taken to ensure a comprehensive, full and objective investigation of all circumstances of the incident,” it said. Investigators have already interrogated “a number of individuals,” added the law-enforcement body.
There was no word on criminal charges brought against any Nubarashen inmates.
The prison chief, Rubik Stepanian, was suspended several months after a similar incident reported from Nubarashen. The Armenian Justice Ministry conducted an investigation and cleared the prison administration of any wrongdoing at the time. Some Armenian human rights activists accused it of covering up abuses by prison guards.