Azerbaijan, Hungary Sued Over Safarov’s Release

A scene from Gurgen Markarian's funeral

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The family of an Armenian army officer who was hacked to death in Budapest nine years ago has sued Hungary and Azerbaijan in connection with the recent release of his convicted Azerbaijani murderer, it was announced on Friday.

Armenia’s Justice Ministry said the relatives of the late Gurgen Markarian, as well as another Armenian officer who also took part in a NATO training course in the Hungarian capital in 2004 have filed a joint lawsuit to the European Court of Human Rights.
Top ministry officials said they want the Strasbourg court to rule that the Hungarian government’s decision last August to extradite the convict, Ramil Safarov, to Azerbaijan and his ensuing release and glorification by Baku ran counter to the European Convention on Human Rights. The plaintiffs specifically cited two provisions of the convention that uphold a person’s right to life and forbid any ethnic or religious discrimination.

A court in Budapest convicted Safarov of ax-murdering his sleeping Armenian colleague and sentenced him to life imprisonment in 2006. The Azerbaijani lieutenant now aged 35 received a hero’s welcome in Baku on August 31 following his extradition from Hungary and immediate pardoning by President Ilham Aliyev. He was promoted to the rank of major, granted a free apartment and paid eight years’ worth of back pay the following day.

Safarov’s release provoked a furious reaction from Armenia and strong international criticism. Armenia suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary in protest.

Deputy Justice Minister Ruben Melikian said the Armenian government could get involved in judicial proceedings in Strasbourg at a later stage if the European Court agrees to rule on the lawsuit. “We have the right to get involved in the proceedings as a third party,” he told a news conference.

Melikian could not say if the plaintiffs are also seeking material compensation from Budapest and Baku. Asked what the Yerevan government’s expectations from the case are, he said, “In general, there are different ways of implementing [Strasbourg court] rulings. They include the restoration of the situation that existed before a violation [of the European Convention.]”

“The European Court of Human Rights has never dealt with such a disgraceful breach of international law before,” added Melikian. “It is simply unprecedented.”

Markarian’s family members and their lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Responding to the Armenian uproar, the Hungarian government has said that it had received prior assurances from Azerbaijan that Safarov will serve the rest of his life sentence in an Azerbaijani prison. It also insists that his extradition conformed to another European convention to which both Hungary and Azerbaijan are signatories.

Armenian leaders have brushed aside such statements, saying that Budapest was well aware that Safarov will be set free if sent back home. They also say that Hungarian officials had repeatedly assured the Armenian side, including in the days leading up to the extradition, that the Azerbaijani officer will not be repatriated.


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  1. GB said:

    Most ex-communist Eastern block countries are in corruption, even today!! Hungry Hungary, must give some of shameful stolen money from Axerbaijan, to unfortunate Gurgen’s family!!

  2. Suren said:

    Why does some media write Eastern Armenian names in Western Armenian and vice-versa. either we respect the way their names are written in their passports and in general media so things can be easily searchable. Or at least be fluid with the transliteration, write Kurken Markarian not Gurgen Markarian. It really bothers me when Serj Sargsian is written Sarkisian. Imagine a Russian writing Clinton as Klinton.

  3. inchpitianenq said:

    this again shows to us that the world is a jungle where only the strong survive, nothing has changed since 1915, and we better realize it. the world is scornfully smiling at us. ramil safarov’s disgusting act was a propaganda of the deed and the world think that azerbaijan is right in this matter – as long as we don’t avenge it. let us also remember that safarov’s deed was the start of a new wave of turkish slayings of armenians: dink, saribekyan, sevag balikci etc. the lack of armenian response has emboldened and encourage further turkish attacks on armenians, not only mortal ones. we have seen the azeri vandalization of armenian khachkars in nakhichevan and turkish vandalization of armenian coffee shop in belgium. now elderly armenian women are being killed in istanbul and most recently: azeri man attacking armenians in the french parliament.

    just as in 1915 we are asleep.

    • Jack Kalpakian said:

      I do not think so. It is not 1915 anymore. There is a Russian Army base, there is also a worldwide community capable of some very “interesting” things to put it gently.

  4. gaytzag palandjian said:

    I ,with proxy from siblings ,as legitimate heir to very important properties in Budapest ,Hungary-illegally misappropriated(squattered) long ago, hereby request that an International Attorney and those Armenians who reside now in Budapest -to join me-in a Class Action Lawsuit to recover one of the 3,Two of these are Landmark Buildings,nay palatial such.Purchased by father and uncle end of WWII.
    Our previous efforts to recuperate these-similar to above case- were cunningly refused,offering us paltry compensation. Now that the international community is witnessing what the Hungarian Gov.t has done in our officer´s case, is the time that Law offices in L.A. (voluntarily, no fees available) join me and the others in proposed Lawsuit in order to recover at least One of these situated on Main square of Budapest.The other two long occupied by the ¨squatters¨´ as a gesture of gratitude to the people of Hungary . As, when our uncle settled there -after armenian Genocide- we leave to them .PLease contact me at To add if this one Bldg is recuperated, One story of it we heartily dedeicate to be Embassy of armenia in that country ,one other for the attorneys that will come forth and take upon themselves to fight it out with said Glov.t judicial to a positive result,rest one more story for heirs.

  5. Vahe said:

    A wise step to take. No injustice should be left to run its course unimpeded.

  6. john goncuian said:

    Hungary received money from azeris supposedly a loan for Ramil Safarov’ s early release, and of course Hungary knew azeris will release Safarov the moment he lands to Azerbeycan..KNOW THIS you inbred RAMIL SAFAROV, Armenian soldiers are looking forward to seeing you in the second war to unite you with your other hero MUBARIZ IBRAHIMOV in a special vacation site IN HELL next to SATAN.

  7. Satenik said:

    Is Amnesty International going to look into this grave matter or are they just satisfied by “urging” Armenia re: election fraud? Where is their voice and action in this barbaric act? Amnesty International would be very interesting to hear what you have to say!

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