Armenian POW Returns Home

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Gharib Melikian–19–an Armenian soldier who was kidnapped by armed Azeris last November while on a border position–was brought to Armenia March 31 on board a plane charted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

At Yerevan’s "Zvartnots" airport the released hostage was met by officials from the Ministry of National Security–the Ministry of Defense–and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Talking to reporters–Melikian assessed his health condition as satisfactory and spoke of the conditions in which he had been kept in Azerbaijan as normal. According to Melikian–there was another Armenian hostage–a native of Gyumri–kept in Baku together with him. Melikian learned about his planned released from ICRC officials a month ago. It was then that ICRC officials started to visit him. Melikian says he was taken hostage by two Azeri servicemen while on duty.

This is the first hostage to be released by the Azeri side this year–National Security Ministry Public Relations Officer Karine Minassian said. Earlier this year–Azerbaijan handed over the corpse of an Armenian captain who died of frost bite in the mountains of Kelbajar.

The Ministry of National Security suggested that the Armenian Government should release one of the ten Azeri prisoners of war kept in Armenia.

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