Karvachar Infiltration Case: Arrested Azeri ‘saboteurs’ charged with crimes in NKR

The Azerbaijani state committee on refugee and IDP issues stated that the question of organizing a meeting with citizens Dilham Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev, who have been charged in Karabakh with illegally crossing the border into Karvatchar and committing crimes there about a week ago, and arranging the transfer of the body of the killed alleged saboteur, Hasan Hasanov, are under President Ilham Aliyev’s immediate control.

Earlier, the Azerbaijani government made attempts to deny they were members of the Azerbaijani saboteur group at the same time tried to get a status of prisoners of war for them.

The Armenian Ministry of Defense disseminated a statement mentioning that in the given case it is impossible, since the International Humanitarian Law, specifically Geneva Convention Article 4 about “Treatment of POWs” clearly defines who can be treated as POWs, and the arrested Azerbaijanis, according to it, clearly cannot qualify as such.

“There are undeniable facts that we are dealing with a criminal grouping which was formed and used for sabotage purposes by the Azerbaijani government. The members of the sabotage group had no identification sign and violated laws and customs of war defined by international law – committing cruel and inhumane acts against civilians,” the Defense Ministry statement said.

A criminal case was launched in connection with the murder of Nor Erkej village resident, 17-year-old Smbat Tsakanyan and Niva driver 42-year-old major Sargis Abrahamyan, and attempted murder of 37-year-old Karine Davtyan, who was heavily wounded.

Azerbaijani citizen Dilham Askerov is charged under NK penal code article 7, and Shahbaz Guliyev – under article 5. They are charged with kidnapping and murdering a person on grounds of ethnic hatred, of carryint out an armed violent act against a teenager by an organized group, of spying, crossing the state border of NK, carrying weapons.

Parallel to the sabotage attempt, during recent weeks the Azerbaijani side was shooting border villages of Tavush Province using large-caliber weapons and damaging the residents’ houses. During the past one week there was relative peace, but from time to time the opponent opens fire in the direction of corn fields not allowing the villagers to collect the harvest.

On July 23 the OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement expressing their ‘serious concern’ about the increase in tensions and violence, including “the targeted killings of civilians, along the Line of Contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.” They urged the parties “to commit themselves to avoiding casualties” and “rejected the deliberate targeting of villages and the civilian population”.

Reacting to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ statement, the NK President’s spokesman David Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that they are ready to follow the urges of the conflict regulators.

“Official Stepanakert has repeatedly mentioned about this before suggesting the co-chairs a number of confidence building measures, including withdrawing snipers, creating ‘days-off’ – international, national, religious holidays on which there will be no shootings. But the opposing side does exactly the opposite – increasing shootings on such days and violating the ceasefire,” Babayan said.

Under ceasefire conditions at all sections of the border serious measures were taken toward preventing sabotage activities, together with training the staff a special system of engineering equipment was developed which makes it possible to prevent sabotage attempts.

In an interview with the radio station Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan mentioned that installing technical means on the first border line is possible on the sections where there is no immediate influence of the opponent and the posts are far from each other.

“Where the posts are very near each other the equipment might be located under the enemy’s sniper’s fire and can easily be destroyed,” said Ohanyan, adding that the Defense Ministry is also in cooperation with local IT companies and some locally produced types of border security systems are now at the stage of testing.