YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—One of the two Azerbaijani soldiers detained in Armenia last week was charged on Tuesday with killing an Armenian man.
The 56-year-old Hayrapet Meliksetyan worked as a security guard at a waste disposal facility of Armenia’s largest mining company located in southeastern Syunik province. He was found shot dead on April 12 several kilometers from where the Azerbaijani soldier, Huseyn Akhundov, was caught the following day.
The Office of the Prosecutor-General said that Akhundov committed the murder in a failed attempt to steal the guard’s car and flee to neighboring Iran. It claimed that the car did not start and Akhundov fled the scene before using the victim’s mobile phone to record a video in which he bragged about killing Armenians and said “we are not traitors of our fatherland.”
The video posted on social media was widely circulated by Armenian media outlets shortly after several Syunik residents apprehended Akhundov on a highway near the provincial capital Kapan. The soldier was apparently unarmed during his detention.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service earlier on Tuesday, Narek Ghahramanyan, a Kapan-born lawmaker affiliated with the ruling Civil Contract party, said that Akhundov confessed to the murder. Ghahramanyan suggested that investigators are looking for his weapon.
The second Azerbaijani serviceman, identified as Akshin Bebirov, was detained on April 12 in a Syunik village located about 100 kilometers northwest of Kapan. According to the Armenian military, he claimed to have crossed the Armenian border with Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave together with another soldier believed to be Akhundov.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on April 12 that they deserted their army unit in Nakhichevan because of “being subjected to hazing and humiliation by other soldiers.”
The Azerbaijani government demanded the immediate release of both servicemen charged with illegally crossing into Armenia. It did not immediately react to the murder charge brought against Akhundov.
Sargis Khandanyan, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, indicated that given the accusations leveled against them Yerevan does not intend to swap Akhundov and Bebirov for any of at least 33 Armenian soldiers who were taken prisoner during or after the 2020 Karabakh war and remain in Azerbaijani captivity.
“Armenia is not planning to make any concessions on this matter,” Khandanyan told reporters.