Interior Minister Reports Lower Crime Rate

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Interior and National Security Minister Serge Sargssian held a news conference Friday to cover the activities of his ministry for the first half of 1998.

Among the achievemen’s of his ministry–Sargssian pointed to the 23 percent decline in crime in the republic as compared to the corresponding period of 1997–emphasizing that there had been more than a two fold decrease in the number of heavy crimes. He said that the delectability of crimes increased–reaching 73 percent.

Reporters drew special attention to the recent controversial arrests of former officials of the Ministry of the Interior and National Security of Armenia.

In that connection–Sargssian spoke against the wording "arrest of those associated with the former authorities," stressing that concrete charges had been brought against all arrested persons. According to the minister–two criminal groups have been detected today.

He denied any connection between the case of the Armen Ter-Sahakian gang with the summoning of the former mayor of Yerevan–former Minister of the Interior and current chairman of the Armenian National Movement Vano Siradeghian to the State Prosecutor’s Office.

The minister also said that Siradeghian was summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office on July 22 as a witness in connection with the testimony of the former interior troops commander Vahan Haroutiunian arrested a month before on charges of gang activity.

Regarding the four deputies of the National Assembly who might be deprived of diplomatic immunity–Sargssian agreed to name only one–Nver Chakhoyan–and declined to name the other three–stating that "the prosecutor general will appear in the National Assembly on their account–as well–but no sooner than September."

Armenpress reported Friday that the kidnappers of former Central Bank president Bagrat Assadrian has unsettled business relations with him. Anticipating a $1 million loan–the kidnappers–at one point–gave Assadrian 10 percent of the loan–$100,000. However–since they never received the said loan–they decided to finish off their deal in the unprofessional manner that they did.

Sargssian stated that the above account was accepted as evidence in the preliminary interrogation of those arrested in connection with the case. The Minister gave assurance that a full scale investigation will be launched immediately.

Sargssian also reported that the Ministry of the Interior and National Security of Armenia had submitted a proposal to the presidential Constitution Amendment Commission in which it suggested that the immunity of deputies should be restricted.

The minister said that today there are prison inmates infected with HIV–adding that they are in isolation and "help is being administered to them–although–of course–not in full measure."

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