Azerbaijan says Armenia trying to deceive int’l community over arrest of man for war crimes

Azerbaijan says Armenia trying to deceive int’l community over arrest of man for war crimes

Steps taken by Baku in line with Azerbaijani legislation, international law, says Foreign Ministry

By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) - Azerbaijan accused Armenia on Sunday of attempting to deceive the international community over the arrest of an Armenian-born man on war crimes charges.

“To evade its obligations, Armenia is once again attempting to deceive and politically manipulate the international community regarding the arrest of Vagif Khachatryan by the State Border Service of Azerbaijan at the Lachin border checkpoint while trying to cross into Armenia in an ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) vehicle on July 29,” said a statement by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.

In a statement shared by state media, Azerbaijan’s prosecutor’s office alleged that 68-year-old Khachatryan was involved in the December 1991 killing of 25 people in the village of Meshali during the first Nagorno-Karabakh war.

The statement said he was placed in a medical facility in the capital Baku and provided with the “necessary medical treatment,” taking into account his purpose of travel to receive medical assistance.

“The steps taken by Azerbaijan were within both international law and Azerbaijan’s legislation,” the statement said, denying claims by Armenia’s Foreign Ministry that the arrest “breached” international humanitarian law, noting that “no restrictions on legal actions against war criminals exist under international humanitarian law.”

“Furthermore, it is completely inappropriate for Armenia to refer to international humanitarian law, considering the genocide and massacres committed by it in 30 years against the civilian populations of Khojaly, Malibeyli, Gushchular, Aghdaban, Ballighaya and Bashlibel, as well as other settlements and cities,” the statement said.

It also said that Armenia’s “smear campaign” against Azerbaijan’s measures in this regard are “nothing more than a justification and support for war crimes.”

“Azerbaijan clearly declared time and again during 30 years that it has launched criminal cases against those who committed war crimes in its territory with international warrants being issued against these persons, and Azerbaijan will continue to act within the criminal proceedings and the internal legislation to bring these persons to justice according to the international practice,” it added.

The Karabakh region has been the site of mass killings and burials since the first Karabakh War in the early 1990s, most notably the Khojaly massacre by Armenian forces.

In February 1992, a two-hour Armenian offensive launched against the town of Khojaly killed 613 Azerbaijani citizens – including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people – and seriously wounded 487 others, according to Azerbaijani figures.

Some 150 of the 1,275 Azerbaijanis that the Armenians captured during the massacre remain missing, while eight families were completely wiped out.

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