Body of Slain Armenian Officer Flown Home

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The body of an Armenian military officer brutally murdered in Hungary last week was flown to Yerevan on Thursday and will be laid to rest this Saturday.

The closed coffin of Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian was draped in the red-blue-orange Armenian national flag and carried away by fellow officers in a somber official ceremony at the Zvartnots airport. It was attended by senior Defense Ministry officials and relatives of the dead man.

Markarian will be buried in Yerevan’s Yerablur cemetery in a state funeral.

The 26-year-old was hacked to death in his sleep by an Azerbaijani serviceman who reportedly used an ax and a knife. Both officers were attending an English-language course in Budapest as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

The Azeri suspect–Ramil Safarov–is under arrest pending the investigation and will be tried by a Hungarian court.

Motives for the crime are still not known. The Armenian government has said it was "the logical consequence of the anti-Armenian hysteria that has been left unleashed by the Azeri authorities over the years."

The Azeri side rejects the charges. In a statement–the Foreign Ministry in Baku claimed that Safarov was provoked into committing the gruesome crime by his victim who "repeatedly made insulting statemen’s to Safarov–impugning his honor as an officer and Azeri citizen and insulting the memory of the victims of Armenian aggression."

Deputy Defense Minister Michael Grigorian–denouncing the crime–stressed that all Armenian officers have a duty to demand honor for their murdered friend.

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