Azeris accused of sabotage to go on trial in Karabakh

The trial of two citizens of Azerbaijan who have been accused of committing acts of sabotage, including the killing of an Armenian teen, after illegally crossing the border into Karabakh last summer, is due to open in Stepanakert today.

Shahbaz Quliyev and Dilgam Askerov were arrested in July. According to prosecutors, they illegally penetrated into the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Shahumyan and killed 17-year-old resident of the village of Nor Erkej Smbat Tsakanyan.

Hasan Hasanov, a third member of the group, was reportedly killed after showing resistance during his arrest. According to official information, before being neutralized he killed an Armenian serviceman and wounded the wife of another military man. Hasanov’s body was repatriated to Azerbaijan earlier this month.

Azerbaijan denies its citizens were saboteurs and demands that the Armenian side treat them like prisoners of war. But justice officials in Stepanakert say they possess irrefutable evidence that the men were saboteurs and committed crimes in Karabakh and, therefore, they will be treated in accordance with Karabakh’s penal code.

The apprehension of suspected Azeri saboteurs preceded a major escalation of violence in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone in late July and early August.