BAKU—An Azerbaijani state commission dealing with prisoners of war and missing persons says it might be willing to return Armenian soldier Hakop Injighulian, who was captured while accidentally wandering past the Azeri border, the secretary of the commission Shahin Sailov told local media on Wednesday, August 21.
According to Sailov, the reasons for the soldier’s crossing the contact line are “being clarified.” He said that the soldier can be handed over to Armenia or to a third country only after they have investigated the case.
Meanwhile, Yerevan has complained about Azerbaijan’s ill treatment of the POW, such as in parading him on television, citing violations of international conventions regarding POWs.
In a statement issued last Wednesday, an Armenian government commission dealing with POWs and missing persons argued that the conventions forbid any public exposure of captured enemy soldiers. It also decried the fact that Injighulian was made to wear an Azerbaijani military uniform.
Sailov told the media, “Everything depends on the captive’s wish, and if he wants to return to Armenia he will be repatriated, and the State Commission does not see a problem in this regard.”
On Tuesday, ICRC representatives met with Injighulian and passed along a message from his family. According to the ICRC, the soldier was informed about his family and, in turn, his family will receive information about him.
On the night of August 7, Hakob Injighulyan, an Armenian citizen and an army conscript, crossed the Azeri border and was subsequently captured by Azeri soldiers. According to preliminary information, Injighulyan had lost his bearings on the terrain and inadvertently crossed the line of contact.
Armenia offered to free an Azerbaijani prisoner of war last week as it continued trying to secure the release of the Armenian soldier.
Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said that Firuz Farajev, an Azerbaijani soldier who crossed into Armenia a year ago, has “changed his mind and expressed a desire to return to Azerbaijan.”
There has been no official response to the offer from Azerbaijan yet.