Minister Reports On Ijevan Prison Fire

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)Thirteen people were killed in a fire which broke out at a police precinct in Ijevan last Saturday.

Interior and National Security Minister Serzh Sargssian–answering deputy Ashot Navasardian’s questions at the March 5 parliament session–provided some details of the accident.

According to Sargssian–only the external walls of the building in which the prison of preliminary detention was situated were made of stone–while the rest of the building was made of wood. To make the cells sound-proof–plastic partitions were filled with wadding. According to Sargssian–the duty department was the least fire-proof.

The fire broke out in one of the cells. Noticing the smoke–the policeman on duty tried to open the door of the cell–but the air which rushed into the cell only made the fire stronger. Sargssian said that at that time–it was still possible to open the doors of the precinct and save the people–but this wasn’t done– as everybody hoped that they would be able to extinguish the fire. However the fire rapidly spread and soon blocked the entrance to the building.

There were attempts to rescue the people inside the precinct by using a tank to demolish the wall from the outside–which took about an hour and a half–but it was too late. Those detained suffocated from smoke–none of them died from burns.

According to the Minister–it was too early to speak about punishing those responsible for the accident. He said that criminal proceedings had already been instituted by the Prosecutor’s Office and that the Prosecutor General would closely attend to the matter. The investigating group was headed by the Deputy Prosecutor.

"I am not entitled to speak about any details of this case. As to the criminal proceedings–I am sure that I will be informing you about the course of the investigation. The public should know everything about the final results," Sargssian said.

He also reported that the chief and a number of employees of the Ijevan precinct had been "fired from work."

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