Another Azeri Soldier ‘Surrenders’ to Armenian Troops

STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)–The Armenian military repatriated one Azerbaijani soldier and took another as prisoner over the weekend, officials in Yerevan said on Monday. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry said an army conscript who identified himself as Samed Mamedov willingly crossed the westernmost section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and surrendered to Armenian forces deployed there on Sunday. The official, Colonel Seyran Shahsuvarian, said the 19-year-old claimed to have been systematically mistreated and humiliated by his Azerbaijani commanders. "An investigation is underway," Shahsuvarian added in a statement. The Azerbaijani military did not immediately comment on the information. The reported incident occurred one day after another Azerbaijani soldier, who reportedly crossed into Armenian-controlled territory east of Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this month, was handed back to the Azerbaijani side with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross. According to officials in Stepanakert, Vusal Garachayev, 19, willingly crossed the heavily fortified frontline to escape systematic hazing at the hands of other Azerbaijani servicemen. Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukasian said on December 18 that Garachaev is reluctant to return home for fear of retribution. But the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry dismissed this as "Armenian propaganda," saying that Garachayev accidentally strayed into the Armenian positions.

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