By Astghik Bedevian
The key suspect in one of the biggest bank robberies ever registered in Armenia escaped from a courtroom in Yerevan in mysterious circumstances as he looked set to be handed a lengthy prison sentence, it emerged on Wednesday.
Aharon Hakobian and four other men, one of them a police officer, were arrested and went on trial earlier this year on charges of stealing about $600,000 worth of cash and jewelry items from a Yerevan branch of the commercial bank Ardshininvest in July last year.
Prosecutors investigating say Hakobian, who has a lengthy criminal record, was the main mastermind of the robbery. The court of first instance in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district was expected to back the accusations carrying at least ten years in prison.
A statement by the Armenian police said Hakobian escaped just hours before the expected announcement of the verdict as he sat in the caged dock with the four other defendants early in the afternoon on Tuesday. The statement said the police immediately began a nationwide hunt for the man but gave no details of the extraordinary break-out.
A police spokesman refused to explain how Hakobian managed to flee the courtroom guarded by armed police officers. Nor would he say if any of the guards was placed under investigation.