BAKU (Azatutyun) — Authorities in Baku have brought charges of alleged war crimes against a 61-year-old man from Nagorno-Karabakh who, according to the Armenian side, was kidnapped by Azerbaijan weeks before its forces established full control over the region in a one-day military operation in September.
According to Azerbaijani media, Rashid Beglaryan, who, Armenians say, strayed into an Azerbaijani-controlled territory near Nagorno-Karabakh on August 1, has been charged on five counts of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan, including “torturing Azerbaijani prisoners” and “participating in the activities of illegal armed groups.”
Citing the country’s State Security Service, Azerbaijan’s APA news agency also reported that Beglaryan admitted that “ethnic Armenian forces, including himself, ambushed and gunned down 200 Azeri civilians, most of them women, children and elderly people” during February 1992 events near the Karabakh town of Khojaly (Khojalu) that Azerbaijan claims amounted to genocide.
The Armenian side has denied that Armenian forces targeted civilians during one of their early offensives in the 1992-1994 war, blaming the killings on the Azerbaijani forces allegedly seeking to prevent the evacuation of Khojaly’s ethnic Azeri residents.
Earlier this month, a court in Baku sentenced another Karabakh Armenian man Vagif Khachatryan to 15 years in prison after finding him guilty of “genocide” and “forced deportation of civilians,” charges that Khachatryan denied vehemently throughout the trial.
Khachatryan, 68, was detained by Azerbaijan’s military in late July as he was trying to leave Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia. Armenia then also accused Azerbaijan of “kidnapping” a Karabakh resident.