Friday, September 7, 2012
Azerbaijan Criticized for Pardoning an Azerbaijani Military Officer Who Killed an Armenian Military Officer During NATO Training
In 2004, Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani military officer, was taking part in a NATO training program. An officer from Armenia, Gurgen Markayan, was taking part in the same program. Mr. Safarov murdered Mr. Markayan and was sentenced in Humgary to life imprisonment for that crime. About a week ago, Mr. Safarov was extradited from Hungary to Azerbaijan, where (instead of serving out the rest of his sentence of life imprisonment), he was pardoned by the Azerbaijani President, publicly praised as a hero, and promoted by the Defense Ministry and given eight years of back pay.
A spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told a news briefing in Geneva this week that these actions have “resulted in an international furore” and that the murder of the Armenian officer had been “clearly ethnically motivated.” Mr. Colville said that international standards regarding accountability for serious crimes should be upheld. “Ethnically motivated hate crimes of this gravity should be deplored and properly punished – not publicly glorified by leaders and politicians,” he stated.
The Co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group also expressed concern over “the damage the pardon and any attempts to glorify the crime have done to the [Nagorno-Karabakh] peace process and trust between the two sides.” Co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United State, the OSCE’s Minsk Group spearheads that organization’s efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, involving Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two countries have been in a dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is part of Azerbaijan’s territory but is occupied by Armenian forces.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)