Azerbaijan hands over 15 more Armenian citizens in exchange for minefield maps
15 more Armenian prisoners handed over in exchange for minefield maps
Armenia handed over to Azerbaijan the maps of minefields in the territory of two regions that came under the control of the Azerbaijani army. In exchange for the cards, the Azerbaijani side handed over 15 Armenian citizens convicted in Baku on July 3.
In Armenia, these people are considered prisoners of war, while Azerbaijan considers them saboteurs.
- Azerbaijan swaps 15 Armenian soldiers for landmine map
- Nagorno-Karabakh prepares for long-term presence of Russian peacekeepers
Statement of Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
“On July 3, 2021, at the initiative of the Russian Federation, Armenia provided Azerbaijan with maps of approximately 92,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines planted during the occupation in Fizuli and Zangilan regions.
We express our gratitude to Rustam Muradov, commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent temporarily deployed in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, for his intermediary role in the implementation of the humanitarian initiative to obtain mine maps.
Obtaining minefield maps will save the lives of tens of thousands of our citizens, including sappers, and will accelerate the implementation of construction and reconstruction projects initiated by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in the liberated territories, as well as the process of returning internally displaced persons.
As a humane step, the Azerbaijani side handed over to Armenia 15 people of Armenian origin who were sentenced to imprisonment by a court decision and whose term of punishment has expired”, the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
Which of the detainees have served their terms?
On July 2, 2021, a meeting was held at the Baku Grave Crimes Court to consider a criminal case against Armenian citizens accused of “committing sabotage, acts of terrorism and other crimes” in the territory of Azerbaijan.
The following persons were accused under several articles of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code: Gegham Serobyan, Hrach Avakyan, Armen Poghosyan, Gor Gasparyan, Kamo Sefilyan, Volodya Hakobyan, Gevorg Asatryan, Sisak Yengoyan, Albert Petrosyan, Romik Sedrakyan, Aram Minasyan, Mkrtich Minasyan, Edgar Mahtesyan, Yuri Karapetyan – only 14 people.
The prosecutor demanded to sentence Hrach Avakyan and Gegham Serobyan to 5 years of imprisonment, and the rest to 2 years of imprisonment under Article 318 (illegal border crossing) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.
Hrach Avakyan and Gegham Serobyan were eventually sentenced to 4 years, and the remaining 12 people were sentenced to 6 months in prison.
All convicts were detained in December 2020, and by the time the verdict was announced, the term of imprisonment (six months) had already expired.
Yerevan has confirmed that a group of 15 Armenian prisoners of war had been returned to their homeland from Azerbaijan, accompanied by the commander of the peacekeeping contingent, General Rustam Muradov. It is also reported that the prisoners were returned as a result of his efforts.
12 of the returned Armenian citizens are servicemen captured in Khtsaberd (Khojavend region of Azerbaijan) at the end of November 2020, that is, after the end of hostilities in Karabakh and the signing of a trilateral ceasefire statement. Therefore, Armenia considers their capture “a gross violation of international humanitarian law”.
On July 2, 12 prisoners of war were sentenced by a Baku court to 6 months in prison for “violating the state border of Azerbaijan”.
In exchange for their return to their homeland, the Armenian side provided Azerbaijan with maps of minefields in Fizuli (Varanda) and Zangilan (Kovsakan), which came under the control of Azerbaijan as a result of the second Karabakh war.
After the plane with a group of Armenian prisoners of war landed at the Erebuni airport, the commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, Rustam Muradov, said that the Russian side would continue its “work to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the trilateral statement on the end of the armed conflict”.
Earlier, on June 12, a group of 15 Armenian prisoners of war returned to their homeland – then in exchange for maps of the minefields of Aghdam region.
The Armenian authorities have repeatedly issued statements condemning the trials in Baku against Armenian prisoners of war that are still being held after the end of the second Karabakh war.
A June 4 statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said that “despite numerous appeals from the international community, Azerbaijan continues to hide the true number of prisoners, refuting the fact that dozens of Armenian servicemen and civilians were captured. Moreover, Azerbaijan denies the fact of capturing the persons who are currently detained in Azerbaijan, there is clear evidence both in video materials and in the form of evidence of repatriated prisoners”.
According to the Armenian authorities, all Armenian prisoners of war and civilians held in Azerbaijan should be immediately released and returned to their homeland without any preconditions.