YEREVAN—A citizen of Armenia who had been interned in Baku, Azerbaijan, returned to Armenia today under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The man was placed in the care of Armenian officials on the road between the Azerbaijani town of Gazakh and the Armenian town of Ijevan, at the international border.
Mamikon Khojoyan, a 77-year-old resident of the Armenian border village of Verin Karmiraghbyur, was apprehended by Azeri military forces on Jan. 30, after having wandered off across the border from his village.
The Azerbaijani military insisted that the elderly man was part of an Armenian commando unit that tried to cross into Azerbaijan that week.
The Armenian Defense Ministry and the mayor of Verin Karmiraghbyur, Kamo Chobanian, as well as Azeri military analyst Uzeir Jafarov, laughed off official Baku’s claims. According to Chobanian, the elderly man suffers from mental disorders and most probably strayed into Azerbaijani territory by accident.
ICRC delegates had visited the man prior to his repatriation in order to assess the conditions in which he was being held and the treatment he received. Representatives of the organization had also been in contact with his family in Armenia.
Acting as a neutral intermediary and in accordance with its mandate, the ICRC facilitated this repatriation in conjunction with the Azerbaijani and Armenian authorities.
On the basis of its mandate under the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has been working in the region since 1992 in connection with the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.