September 7, 2012
UN, NATO Condemn Azeri President’s Pardon of Convicted Murderer
by: Lilit Gevorgyan
On 6 September the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined a wave of
international condemnation of the decision by Azerbaijani president
Ilham Aliyev to pardon Ramil Safarov, an Azeri soldier who, until 31
August, was serving a life sentence for murder in a Hungarian prison.
Safarov nearly decapitated Armenian student Gurgen Margarian in 2004
after attacking him with an axe. Both were attending a NATO-sponsored
language course in Hungary within NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP)
programme designed for military personnel from former Soviet states.
Despite numerous warnings from the Armenian government and the
victim’s legal team and previous assurances by the Hungarian
government that Safarov would not be extradited to Azerbaijan, under
unexplained circumstances he was sent to Azerbaijan on 31 August.
Contrary to the international convention that requires the receiving
state to ensure that the full length of the prison term is served,
upon Safarov’s arrival in Azerbaijan he was pardoned by the Azeri
president, promoted to major’s rank, given back dated payment for the
years spent in Hungarian prison as well as given a flat in the Azeri
capital Baku (seeArmenia – Azerbaijan – Hungary: 3 September 2012:).
Today (7 September) NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
visiting Azerbaijan has also sharply criticised the pardon saying that
“the act he committed in 2004 was a crime which should not be
glorified, as this damages trust and does not contribute to the peace
Significance:The UN and NATO rebukes follow similar statements made
earlier by the US State Department, the EU, Russia and the Minsk Group
of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
tasked with the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between
Armenia and Azerbaijan. Despite the international pressure, the Azeri
government publicly remains adamant that Safarov deserves only a
hero’s treatment. However, it is clear that the nationalistic
propaganda coup by President Aliyev has backfired. Armenian sources
have already raised concerns that the Azeri government is unlikely to
return Safarov but to end the embarrassing situation, he could be
physically harmed or even killed by Azeris and the crime pinned on
Armenia. Should this extreme scenario materialise, it would exacerbate
the already highly volatile situation.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress