Wales fan held at gunpoint in Armenia by police - claim

1 week ago 12

Gerwyn WilliamsImage source, Gerwyn Williams

Image caption,

Gerwyn Williams (on the left) says he was "fearful for his life"

By Elen Wyn & Jared Evitts

BBC News

A Wales fan has said he was fearful for his life after being held at gunpoint by police in Armenia.

Gerwyn Williams, 35, from Penygroes in Gwynedd, said he was arrested "for no reason at all" by police on Friday.

Mr Williams then said he was detained for 12 hours without any food or water, and was so afraid he flew home before Wales' European qualifier on Saturday night.

The Armenian Embassy has been asked for comment.

Mr Williams said he was arrested the night before Wales 1-1 draw with Armenia while walking home with some friends.

"I crossed the road and I noticed there was a lot of police vehicles," he said.

"I didn't think anything of it and went to walk between them and then police officers jumped on me.

"There was about five or six of them and they took me to the floor, kicked me, handcuffed me and threw me in the back of a van."

When he got out of the van, Mr Williams said he could see other police vehicles taking a other people inside what he believes was a passport office.

"When we got in there was a corridor full and everyone was leaned against the walls and searched. Then we were all put into different rooms and separated," he said.

Image caption,

Some Wales fans took photos while they were kept in detention in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia

"Nobody told us anything for several hours as to why we were there. We were just put into rooms and we had a police officer watching us throughout the duration of the stay in this room.

"He didn't speak to us at all and actually slept for three hours in the room."

Mr Williams said the room was not a cell, but was "more like an office with a desk, some chairs and a couch".

"It wasn't very clean, and we were just put in there and told to wait. We were asking all the time why are we here and how long do we have to wait.

"They were telling us one hour, one hour, one hour.

"I remember one of the lads asking for a cup of water and one of them [police officers] pointed to the toilet to tell them to go and drink out of the toilet."

Mr Williams said that when any of the fans asked police officers questions, they shouted, looked angry and tried to intimidate them.

"They were really really very intimidating, at one time one of them came into the room with a gun and started pointing the gun in our faces just trying to intimidate us," he said.

"In the end we didn't even want to ask questions because we were afraid how they were going to react."

When he was arrested, Mr Williams said he got in touch with the FAW embassy, who he said came to the building they were being kept in to "reason with police".

"They were getting the same silent treatment and they were told to go out of the building, stay outside and wait," he said.

Image caption,

The FAW says it will continue to liaise with the police after the fans were arrested

"I also had a message from the foreign office down in London, as someone had contacted them to say that we were detained.

"They were also messaging me on WhatsApp trying to get information about where we were because they had tried to ring the police office, but they didn't have any luck getting hold of them."

After 12 hours spent inside the building, Mr Williams said he went back to his hotel and slept for an hour.

"When I woke up I just said to my brother and my friends I need to go home, I don't want to stay here any more," he said.

"So we actually just booked a flight out and we went to Vienna, because that was the first one. So we went there and stayed there for the night before coming home.

"I didn't feel safe at all, I was just afraid - I was afraid if they were going to come back and I was afraid if I went to watch the match something like that could happen again.

"For the final few hours while we were detained... we were just fearful for our lives. We actually thought of trying to break out at one point.

"It was just a really horrible experience."

The FAW said it will continue to liaise with the police and FSA Cymru in relation to this matter.

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