YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’said on Friday that it has deported to an unspecified European country an Azerbaijani soldier who surrendered to Armenian forces over a year ago and has apparently been unwilling to return home ever since.
Samir Mamedov, 20, reportedly deserted from his frontline unit stationed in western Azerbaijan and crossed into Armenia in December 2006. According to the Armenian authorities, Mamedov claimed to have been systematically mistreated and humiliated by his comrades and asked not to be repatriated.
"Since his surrender, Mamedov has repeatedly refused offers to return to Azerbaijan," Armenia’s National Security Service said in a statement. "Other options were discussed with representatives of international organizations, who repeatedly visited him, as a result of which Samir Mamedov chose asylum in one of the European countries." The prisoner of war left Armenia "in absolutely good health," added the statement.
Mamedov’s release was announced one week after Azerbaijan repatriated an Armenian soldier who strayed into Azerbaijani-controlled territory north of Nagorno-Karabakh in still unclear circumstances last August.