Relatives of a murdered Armenian military officer killed with an axe by an Azerbaijani counterpart on a Nato coaching programme in Budapest are hoping the European court of human rights will hand down rulings towards Hungary and Azerbaijan on Tuesday.
Gurgen Margaryan was murdered in February 2004 by Ramil Safarov, whereas each males had been attending a three-month Nato English-language coaching course within the Hungarian capital.
At Safarov’s subsequent trial, he stated he was motivated by hatred for Armenia and Armenians, due to the struggle between the 2 nations. He was jailed for life by the Budapest court. However, in 2012 Hungary despatched Safarov again to Azerbaijan to full his sentence. On arrival, he was promptly pardoned, launched and given a hero’s welcome.
“Though this heinous incident happened 16 years ago, it still remains alive in my memories,” stated Hayk Makuchyan, one other Armenian officer on the course, whom Safarov had additionally needed to kill. He and Margaryan’s family are the claimants within the present ECHR case. They usually are not in search of monetary compensation from both authorities.
“We have sought justice rather than compensation. What matters to us is the acknowledgment of the fact of grievous violations, putting an end to impunity and the prevention of hatred against Armenians,” stated Makuchyan, in emailed feedback.
Nazeli Vardanyan, the claimants’ lawyer, stated though Margaryan’s household had been struggling for cash, they made it clear they didn’t need monetary compensation. “They only want justice,” she stated.
Tens of 1000’s of folks had been killed in a struggle between Armenia and Azerbaijan within the early 1990s over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. A ceasefire was agreed however there may be nonetheless periodic combating within the space. Since then, the 2 nations have had no diplomatic relations and there aren’t any journey hyperlinks between them.
The 2004 homicide additional elevated tensions. Safarov bought an axe in a neighborhood ironmongery shop and killed Margaryan in his dormitory room. It grew to become clear in the course of the court listening to that Safarov had focused Margaryan as a result of of his Armenian ethnicity, and that he confirmed no regret. He had additionally needed to kill Makuchyan however was unable to get into the locked bed room earlier than he was apprehended.
When Safarov arrived again in Baku in 2012, he was given an official pardon by the president, Ilham Aliyev, a promotion in rank, a free residence and again pay for the eight years he had spent in a Hungarian jail. He is believed to nonetheless be in lively service with the Azerbaijani military.
“Azerbaijan’s shameful act seriously endangers the security of the entire south Caucasus,” stated the then president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, shortly after Safarov was launched. “Making a hero out of a criminal is unacceptable.”
The European court might order Azerbaijan to re-arrest Safarov and return him to jail, although this may be new authorized floor for a court that’s normally involved with overruling unfair convictions, reasonably than unfair releases. States are obliged to adjust to the court however don’t all the time achieve this.
“Ideally, we’d like the court to order him transferred back to Hungary or a third country, to complete his sentence, because in Azerbaijan he is treated as a hero,” stated Vardanyan.
Philip Leach, the director of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, which can be representing the claimants, stated the case coated new authorized territory and the court ruling might have profound penalties for future circumstances of prisoner transfers.
“It’s quite common around the globe that people are pardoned or amnestied for political reasons, but when states issue amnesties or pardons, it is often in breach of their human rights obligations,” he stated.
A report by the Hungarian ombudsman in 2012 discovered Hungary had not infringed any worldwide norms, however however concluded that the Hungarian authorities “was not sufficiently prudent when it did not require any guarantee from Azerbaijan”.
The choice got here shortly after Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, had travelled to Baku. The Hungarian authorities denied allegations of impropriety within the case.
“With regards to Hungary I have conflicting feelings: gratitude to the judiciary of Hungary, which was strong enough to administer justice … [and] disappointment for the extradition of a murderer against court decisions and persistent risks of impunity,” stated Makuchyan, who now works in Armenia’s defence ministry.