YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The chief of Armenia’s largest prison has stepped down amid an ongoing criminal investigation into the brazen escape of two men who served life sentences there for murder, law-enforcement sources said on Wednesday.
Sources at the Armenian Ministry of Justice confirmed Arsen Afrikian’s resignation the day after three employees of the Nubarashen prison in Yerevan were charged with “operational negligence” which investigators believe enabled Soghomon Kocharian and Mher Yenokian to flee on Friday night.
Both convicts, who already escaped from another jail in 2002, are still on the run. The Armenian police promised on Tuesday a “financial reward” for any information that would help them hunt down Kocharian and Yenokian.
The Office of the Prosecutor-General confirmed reports that the two men climbed down a rope from the roof of a Nubarashen building after they and other prisoners were taken to a sixth-floor courtyard for a regular walk. It said the three prison guards failed to ensure a “proper surveillance” of the inmates.
Kocharian and Yenokian were left unattended “for a long period of time,” the law-enforcement agency said in a statement. The guards, if found guilty, will face up to five years in prison.