YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—An Armenian court has sentenced one of the two Azerbaijani soldiers detained in Armenia last month to 11.5 years in prison.
The conscript, Agshin Bebirov, was apprehended on April 10 in Ashotavan, a village in Syunik province bordering Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. According to the Armenian military, he claimed to have crossed into Armenia together with the other Azerbaijani serviceman, Huseyn Akhundov.
Akhundov was detained on April 13 at a section of the main provincial highway located about 100 kilometers southeast of Ashotavan. He was charged a few days later with murdering a Syunik resident in what Armenian law-enforcement authorities called a failed attempt to flee to neighboring Iran.
The 56-year-old victim, who worked as a security guard at an Armenian mining company, was found shot dead on April 12 several kilometers from where Akhundov was caught. It is still not clear whether the latter accepts the murder charge.
Bebirov, the other Azerbaijani soldier, was accused of illegally crossing the Armenian border and smuggling weapons. The prison sentence given to him was announced on Monday by Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which oversees Armenia’s courts.
A statement released by the SJC did not specify which court handed the long sentence. It said that Bebirov’s trial, apparently held in closed session, was short because the defendant pleaded guilty to the accusations leveled against him.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed on April 12 that the two Azerbaijanis deserted their army unit stationed in Nakhichevan because of being systematically ill-treated by fellow servicemen.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, for its part, that Akhundov and Bebirov accidentally crossed into Armenia due to heavy fog. It asked international organizations to help repatriate them.