Yerevan accuses Baku of using prisoners of war as political hostages
On June 2, a trial over two captured Armenians began in Azerbaijan. Ludwig Mkrtchyan and Alyosha Khosrovyan are accused of torturing Azerbaijani prisoners in the 90s, during the first Karabakh war.
On June 3, the Azerbaijani media reported that the case of 14 other Armenian prisoners of war had been transferred to the Baku Court of Serious Crimes. Those are the cases against the servicemen who were captured after the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh near the village of Khtsaberd (in Azerbaijan it is called Chailaggala).
According to the prosecutor’s office of Azerbaijan, these Armenian soldiers are charged with terrorism and illegal border crossing.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry, commenting on the actions of Azerbaijan, stated that Baku is using the prisoners as political hostages.
The Ombudsman of Armenia believes that the trials against the Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan contradict the principles of international law, grossly violate the rights of prisoners and their families, and politicize humanitarian issues.
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Armenian ombudsman’s statement
Arman Tatoyan, having analyzed the coverage of the trials in the Azerbaijani media, stated that all these publications were made in order to “cause additional suffering to the families of Armenian prisoners of war” and increase tension in Armenian society.
A photo from the courtroom was published on social media, where it can be seen that the Armenian prisoners who are being tried for crimes allegedly committed during the first Karabakh war are sitting in a closed glass cell. The Ombudsman assessed this as an ” attack on the prisoners’ dignity”.
Arman Tatoyan emphasizes that the Azerbaijani authorities still have not disclosed how many prisoners are being held after all the exchanges. On top of that the cases against them are based solely on the “confessions” of the prisoners themselves:
“It is obvious that prisoners are held in Azerbaijan illegally and criminal prosecution or legal proceedings against any of them, as well as their detention grossly violates international humanitarian law, including the requirements of the second Geneva Convention”.
Arman Tatoyan insists that all prisoners must be immediately returned to their homeland without any preconditions.
Armenian Foreign Ministry statement
“By continuing to violate the norms of humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, which clearly states that prisoners of war are to be released and repatriated immediately after the cessation of hostilities, Azerbaijan initiated a fabricated criminal prosecution of 14 Armenian prisoners of war. This too is a violation of the clauses of the trilateral agreement [on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh] of November 9, 2020”, the statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry also condemned the criminal prosecution of Ludwig Mkrtchyan and Alyosha Khosrovian, stressing that Azerbaijan uses prisoners of war as political hostages and “leverage to achieve other goals”.
The Foreign Ministry’s statement indicates that Baku openly ignores the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on providing information about Armenian military personnel and civilians held captive in Azerbaijan:
“Despite numerous calls from the international community, Azerbaijan continues to hide the real number of prisoners, refuting the fact that dozens of Armenian soldiers and civilians were captured. Moreover, Azerbaijan denies detaining those persons whose captivity in Azerbaijan is clearly proven by both video materials and testimonies of the prisoners who have returned to Armenia. All of the above raises suspicion of serious crimes and violations committed against the Armenian prisoners in Azerbaijan”.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry also states that Armenian prisoners of war and civilians illegally detained by Azerbaijan should be immediately released and returned to their homeland.