Trial of Azerbaijanis Charged With Sabotage Begins in Stepanakert

Shahbaz Quliyev (R) and Dilham Askerov (third from L), Azerbaijani men charged by Karabakh's authorities with sabotage, stand before a court in Stepanakert (RFE/RL photo)

STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)—Two Azerbaijani men accused by Armenian authorities in Karabakh of illegally crossing the border and “committing acts of sabotage”, including the killing of a teen, went on trial in Stepanakert on Monday amid protests from Baku that demands repatriation of its citizens.

Prosecutors in the case say Shahbaz Quliyev, 46, and Dilham Askerov, 54, who were arrested separately in July, are saboteurs and infiltrated the territory of Karabakh for the purpose of carrying out spying and sabotage activities. They are charged under a number of articles of Artsakh’s penal code. In particular, they are accused of murdering 17-year-old villager Smbat Tsakanian and 42-year-old officer Sargis Abrahamian, as well as wounding the wife of another serviceman, 37-year-old Karine Davtian.

Another Azerbaijani suspected saboteur was reportedly killed after showing resistance while being apprehended by security forces. Karabakh authorities repatriated the body of 36-year-old Hasan Hasanov to Azerbaijan earlier this month.

The incidents reportedly took place in Karvajar, a mountainous area between Armenia and Karabakh. They preceded a major outbreak of violence in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone in late July and early August that claimed the lives of dozens of servicemen.

Official Baku insists that none of the Azerbaijanis accused of sabotage by Armenians are servicemen or were hired to commit undermining activities in Karabakh. In Azerbaijan some media presented them as citizens who regularly visited the graves of their family members that remained in Artsakh’s territory.

The Armenian side has rejected such claims, making it clear that the two men will not be treated as prisoners of war and will stand trial on murder and terrorism charges.

Under the laws of Karabakh, both Azerbaijanis have been provided with defense attorneys. An interpreter is also available for the defendants during the trial.

At the beginning of the court proceedings Quliyev pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering Tsakanian and illegally crossing the border, but he admitted to stealing money from the Armenian teenager, who was later found dead.

While Azerbaijan does not recognize the jurisdiction of the Karabakh court, David Babayan, a spokesperson for the republic’s president, said that “the trial will be held in accordance with standards of a civilized country.” He said that the local justice system will ensure a fair trial “no matter how hard it will be for us to do, since these people are charged with very heavy crimes.”

“They have been provided with lawyers and these lawyers will do everything to defend their interests. Only the court will give the final verdict,” the official told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (


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  1. Ararat said:

    A typical Azerbabooni nonsense. Innocent Armenian villagers are by default considered saboteurs by the artificial Azerbabooni criminal state when they are trapped in the border towns, taken hostage, humiliated in front of the racist Azerbabooni public, beaten and tortured sadistically and “misteriously” end up dead or “commit suicide” as they put it, but when Azerbabooni criminal saboteurs with weapons are captured while committing crimes and murders against the Armenians they are considered innocent Azerbabooni civilians visiting “their” towns and villages.

    Look at these disgusting Azerbabooni criminals in court looking like little cockroaches pleading for their lives. I wonder what happened to their “courage and heroism” when they killed those two Armenians and wounding another. Typical Azerbabooni racist cowards!

    Too bad they are given a trial instead of being treated like they treated the innocent Armenian villagers. They know they are guilty of murder and act like they are innocent because they were caught! I look forward to the day when they are found guilty and executed. They must pay for the lives of those Armenians they took away. Have no mercy on them!

  2. Vindicated Man said:

    Artsakh is light years ahead of Baku in how respectfully people from the opposite side are treated. Artsakh respects law, while Baku prefers to kill even peaceful Armenians. Yet Artsakh is still unrecognized, while so-called Azerbaijan is a UN member? I don’t understand this.

    • Ararat said:

      Maybe the following three reasons, among many, will give you some understanding and clarify why it is the way it is:

      1. The artificial state of Azerbaboon was invented less than a hundred years ago as a Turkish outpost in the South Caucasus by its Turkish step-brothers-in-crime to finish off whatever was left of the Armenian state after committing genocide on the Armenians in 1915 and to have control of the oil fields in Baku.

      2. The artificial state of Azerbaboon has oil and western companies are heavily invested in it.

      3. Today, the illegal and fascist state of Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaboon, is the only NATO member Muslim terrorist nation and therefore by association Azerbaboon is looked at favorably by the two-faced and spineless NATO alliance.

  3. GB said:

    I am sure these two saboteurs will get all kinds of freedom in Artsakh to describe Axerbaijani corrupted, dictatorial regime, led by their permanent Sultan, Ilham Aliyev, where his daily anti-Armenian speeches is part of Baku’s famous, oily, TV stations!

  4. Areg said:

    Have the Armenians learned how these bastards Azeri Turks treat the Armenian prisoners? Torture and throat cutting is the Turkish-Azeri culture.
    Treat these basterds the same way. This is the only language these bastards understand.