Azerbaijani soldiers in action in 1992 during the war for Nagorno-Karabakh (file photo) (AFP)
April 13, 2006 -- A court in Budapest today sentenced an Azerbaijani serviceman to life in prison for the murder in 2004 of an Armenian army officer.
Lieutenant Ramil Safarov had confessed to killing Gurgen Markarian with an ax during a NATO seminar in the Hungarian capital.
Safarov reportedly said he killed his Armenian classmate in the heat of a dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.
But the court ruled that the murder was premeditated. It also found Safarov guilty of planning to kill another Armenian soldier, a plan he did not act on.
Azerbaijan's Turan news agency quotes Safarov's lawyers as saying they will appeal the verdict.
(Turan, APA, day.az, Interfax-Azerbaijan, AFP)
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In February 1988, the local assembly in Stepanakert, the local capital of the Azerbaijani region of NAGORNO-KARABAKH, passed a resolution calling for unification of the predominantly ethnic-Armenian region with Armenia. There were reports of violence against local Azeris, followed by attacks against Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. In 1991-92, Azerbaijani forces launched an offensive against separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, but the Armenians counterattacked and by 1993-94 had seized almost all of the region, as well as vast areas around it. About 600,000 Azeris were displaced and as many as 25,000 people were killed before a Russian-brokered cease-fire was imposed in May 1994.
CHRONOLOGY: For an annotated timeline of the fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988-94 and the long search for a permanent settlement to the conflict, click here.
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