By Ruzanna Stepanian
BAKU (Azatutyun) — A military court in Baku sentenced an ethnic Armenian from Nagorno-Karabakh to 15 years in prison on November 7, three months after he was arrested by Azerbaijani security services during his aborted medical evacuation to Armenia.
The 68-year-old Vagif Khachatryan was among Karabakh patients escorted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Armenian hospitals for urgent treatment. He was detained at an Azerbaijani checkpoint in the Lachin corridor and then charged with killing and deporting Karabakh’s ethnic Azerbaijani residents at the beginning of the first Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
Azerbaijani authorities specifically implicated Khachatryan in the alleged killings of 25 Azerbaijanis from the Karabakh village of Meshali captured by Karabakh Armenian forces in December 1991. He lived in another village close to Meshali during and after the 1991-1999 war.
Khachatryan, who had been due to undergo a heart surgery in Yerevan, repeatedly denied the accusations during his trial that began on October 13. He said, in particular, that he was held in an Azerbaijani prison during the capture of the village.
“I’m an innocent person,” Khachatryan said in his concluding remarks made shortly after the announcement of the verdict in the case. The verdict mirrored the punishment demanded by an Azerbaijani prosecutor.