The recent early release of hundreds of people serving prison sentences has had little impact on the number of crimes committed in Armenia, a senior police official said on Tuesday.
“The situation is not alarming,” said Ashot Karapetian, head of the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations at the national police service.
“The crime dynamics has increased a little since the general amnesty. But so have our efforts to solve crimes,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in an interview.
According law-enforcement authorities, more than 530 convicts have been set free since a general amnesty initiated by President Serzh Sarkisian and approved by parliament in late May.
Karapetian said some of those individuals formed criminal groups mainly engaged in apartment burglaries just days after their release. The Armenian police have already busted two such gangs, he said, adding that their members are now under arrest pending trial.
The Armenian authorities are believed to have declared the amnesty as part of their concessions made to the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). Those included the release of several HAK activists who were arrested following the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan and remained behind bars. All of them were covered by the amnesty.
In Karapetian’s words, the increased number of crimes observed in recent months also reflects a seasonal rise in crime. He said thefts and burglaries are traditionally more common in summer months that see many Yerevan families leave their homes on vacation.