Azerbaijani officer confesses to premeditated murder of Armenian cla

Azerbaijani officer confesses to premeditated murder of Armenian classmate
by PABLO GORONDI; Associated Press Writer

Associated Press Worldstream
May 13, 2004 Thursday

BUDAPEST, Hungary — An Azerbaijani officer who hacked to death an
Armenian classmate during a NATO course has confessed to the murder
and said he planned it as revenge for a 1992 Armenian assault of
Azerbaijanis, police said Thursday.

Lt. Ramil Safarov of Azerbaijan on Feb. 19 used an ax to hack Lt.
Gurgen Markarian of Armenia to death in a dormitory that was being
used by participants of a NATO Partnership for Peace English language
course in Budapest.

At the time, police said the murder had been committed with “unusual
cruelty” and that Safarov had tried, unsuccessfully, to enter the
room of another Armenian with the intention of killing him.

A police statement released Thursday said Safarov had confessed to
committing the murder and claimed that the long-standing conflict
between Azerbaijan and Armenia was at the root of his act.

“There was no concrete grievance between the killer and the victim
before the (murder),” the Budapest police said.

Safarov initially had planned to kill an Armenian on Feb. 26 –
the anniversary of a 1992 Armenian assault which killed dozens of
Azerbaijanis in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan – even
before coming to Hungary for the NATO course, police said.

He told police he later decided to commit the crime ahead of the
anniversary date because “the presence of the Armenians was getting
on my nerves.”

Police investigators have recommended that the Budapest Attorney
General’s office charge Safarov with premeditated murder carried out
with unusual cruelty and with vile motives and aims.

The NATO program attended by the two men is aimed at increasing
cooperation between neutral and former Soviet bloc nations and NATO
in peacekeeping and other areas.

Relations between the two former Soviet Republics remain tense after
Armenian-backed forces drove Azerbaijan’s army out of the ethnic
Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s.

Despite a 1994 cease-fire ending the war that killed 30,000 people
and left about 1 million homeless, no agreement has been reached on
the territory’s final status.