Who’s responsible for the murder of an Armenian soldier – Azerbaijan or Safarov?
Armenian lawyers have appealed against the decision of the European Court in the case of the brutal murder of an Armenian soldier in Hungary which took place back in 2004.
In May 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on the case “Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary”. The decision states that Azerbaijan violated two articles of the European convention ensuring the human right to life and prohibiting discrimination.
Earlier, Baku pardoned Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, who is accused of the murder of Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan.
At the same time, Armenian lawyers say that the court did not recognize Azerbaijan’s responsibility for this crime itself.
The Safarov case
In January 2004, Senior Lieutenant Ramil Safarov, along with another officer from Azerbaijan, traveled to Budapest for a three-month English language course organized by NATO. Two Armenian officers attended the same course: Gurgen Margaryan and Hayk Makuchyan. All cadets lived in the dormitory of the National Defense University.
Early morning on February 19, Safarov entered Margaryan’s room and hacked him to death with an ax, inflicting 16 blows to the head and neck. He planned to kill Makuchyan afterwards, but the door to his room was locked, and at that point, the police had already arrived on the scene.
At first, Safarov explained his actions by saying that, being from the Jebrail region (which after the Karabakh war is under the control of Armenia), he hates the Armenians. Later during the trial, he said that Margaryan and Makuchyan mocked and provoked him.
In 2006, a Hungarian court found Safarov guilty of committing murder under attenuating circumstances and sentenced him to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 30 years.
Safarov served a total of eight years in a Hungarian prison. In 2012, Azerbaijan was able to extradite him so that he could serve the remainder of his sentence at home.
But immediately upon arrival in Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev pardoned Safarov. In addition, he was promoted to major and given an apartment.
This whole story caused an international scandal, and in Azerbaijan, opinions on Safarov’s crime were divided: some considered him a hero, others, a criminal who disgraced the country.
Statements from Armenian lawyers
The plaintiffs’ lawyers appealed to the ECHR with a complaint that Azerbaijan violated the European Convention on Human Rights by releasing the extradited officer Ramil Safarov.
Representative of the plaintiffs’ interests Siranush Sahakyan wrote on her Facebook page that although the European Court has established the guilt of Azerbaijan in violation of two articles of the European Convention – on the right to life and the prohibition of discrimination, nevertheless, the court did not hold Azerbaijan itself responsibe for the murder of Markarian and the attempted murder of Makuchyan.
“The European Court did not connect the murder of Gurgen Margaryan and the attempted murder of Hayk Makuchyan with Azerbaijan, referring to the Hungarian verdict that Safarov acted as a private person. The European Court also acquitted Hungary”.
Given the legal importance of this case and the great public interest surrounding it, the lawyers of the victims reported that the decision of the European Court had been appealed to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.