An Azerbaijani court on Tuesday sentenced Vagif Khachatryan to serve a 15-year prison term after holding a sham trial for several weeks in Baku.
The 68-year-old Khachatryan was abducted by Azerbaijani border guards at the illegal checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor while being transported by the International Committee of the Red Cross to Armenia for medical treatment. He was subsequently transported to Baku where he was remanded into pretrial custody facing charges of allegedly committing genocide against Azerbaijanis during the 1990’s Karabakh Liberation war.
During Tuesday’s court session, Khachatryan again pleaded not guilty to charges, saying he had no role in the events for which he was being charged.
Azerbaijan’s prosecutor charged Khachatryan for allegedly taking part in combat operations that had “59 victims.”
During the course of the sham trial prosecutors put “witnesses” on the stand who said they “recognized” Khachatryan and provided lengthy testimony about his alleged “crimes.”
“Vagif Khachatryan’s lawyer Radmila Abilova made a defense speech in the court session presided over by Zeynal Agayev, chairman of the Baku Military Court. In her speech, the lawyer asked for the acquittal of Vagif Khachatryan. Then Vagif Khachatryan was given the last word. He said he does not consider himself guilty and asked for the acquittal,” Azerbaijani media reported.
Throughout the trial, Khachatryan was identified as being a citizen of Armenia.
Armenia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ani Badalyan said the trial went against all international norms.
”Despite clear rejection of any false accusation, the 68-year-old resident of Nagorno-Karabakh was ‘sentenced’ to 15-year prison term after after a month of mock ‘trail’/show in Baku,” Badalyan said in a social media post on Tuesday.
Anahit Manasyan, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender called Khachatryan’s “trial” absurd and urged international human rights organizations to immediately take action.
”Vagif Khachatryan, abducted by Azerbaijani forces in the Lachin corridor, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Baku, without observing the international legal standards and guarantees related to human rights,” Minasyan said in a social media post.
“International Human Rights organizations should respond immediately,” she added.