Armenian law-enforcement authorities have released one of the gunmen that surrendered to them on Sunday two weeks after launching a deadly attack on a police station in Yerevan.
A law-enforcement source told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday that the young man, Gevorg Melkonian, was set free after signing a written pledge not to leave Yerevan until the end of a criminal investigation into the attack.
Melkonian and another man related to him, Ruben Grigorian, apparently gave themselves up more than 10 hours before the surrender of the remaining 20 gunmen holed up in the police compound. In a video released by the police, they said that they were misled by other members of the armed opposition group and remained inside the compound out of fear for their own lives.
In particular, Melkonian claimed that he and Grigorian never knew that the group linked to the Founding Parliament opposition movement is going to attack on July 17 the police facility located in Yerevan’s southern Erebuni district. He said they were only asked to take part in a demonstration outside a prison where Zhirayr Sefilian, Founding Parliament’s top leader, has been kept since being arrested on June 20.
“On our way [to the Erebuni police compound] they said, ‘There may be gunshots, don’t be afraid,’” Melkonian says in the video. He claims that when the group burst into the compound “we didn’t realize where we are and what’s going on.”
The Special Investigative Service (SIS), a law-enforcement body investigating the Erebuni attack, did not officially confirm Melkonian’s release. A spokesperson said that the SIS will issue a statement later on.
A source in Founding Parliament said Melkonian has no defense lawyer and it is not clear what he has been formally charged with.