ECHR Ruling on Murder of Armenian Officer ‘Expected Next Year’

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STRASBOURG, France (PanARMENIAN.Net) — Armenia’s Government Representative before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Gevorg Kostanyan said on Monday, November 7 that the Court will rule next year on a case brought by the relatives of Armenian army officer Gurgen Margaryan, who was murdered by Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov in Budapest in 2004.

The governments of Azerbaijan and Hungary were asked by the ECHR to respond formally to the case earlier this year.

Involved in the process as a third party, Armenia has presented its stance on the issue in detail, Kostanyan said, according to Aysor.am.

“We have argued that the steps of the Hungarian government have led to direct violations of European conventional rights and international documents,” the official said.

“Also, we have said that granting pardon to Safarov by Azerbaijan and President Ilham Aliyev, in particular, has infringed the most important of European values — respect for the right to life. We’ll have a ruling at least next year which I hope will clearly record the illegality and constitutional contradiction of actions by the Hungarian government and, most importantly, those of the Azeri President.”

Both men were attending a NATO-sponsored English-language course in Budapest. On February 19, 2004 Safarov murdered Margaryan by decapitating him with an axe. In April 2006 Safarov was found guilty of murder by the Budapest City Court, and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with the possibility of conditional release after 30 years. The court found that Safarov had intended to kill two Armenian participants at the course on the anniversary of the beginning of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh. After the Court of Appeal upheld this judgment in February 2007, Safarov began serving his sentence in a Hungarian prison.

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In August 2012 the Hungarian Minister of Justice approved Safarov’s transfer to Azerbaijan with a view to his serving his sentence there (under the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners 1983). However, a few hours after Safarov was transferred on August 31, 2012, he was granted a pardon by the Azerbaijani President and set free. He was also promoted to the rank of major and received back pay for eight years, and also received an apartment.