Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Row Erupts After Azerbaijan Pardons Armenian Officer's Repatriated Killer

Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov (center) testifies at his trial in Budapest in April 2006 to having hacked to death an Armenian soldier over an "insult."
Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov (center) testifies at his trial in Budapest in April 2006 to having hacked to death an Armenian soldier over an "insult."
BAKU -- The quick pardon by Azerbaijan's president of the repatriated killer of an Armenian army officer has sparked a diplomatic maelstrom involving arch foe Armenia and European Union and NATO member Hungary.

The confessed killer, Lieutenant Ramil Safarov, had been sentenced to life in prison by a Hungarian court for killing an Armenian military officer.

But he was returned to Azerbaijan on August 31 and immediately pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev.

The move has infuriated Armenia, which is still engaged in a frozen conflict with Azerbaijan and whose president quickly pressed for an "appropriate response" to the release.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian followed up by saying Yerevan was suspending diplomatic relations and all official contacts with Budapest.

'Insult' Sparked Killing

In 2006, the Hungarian court sentenced Lieutenant Ramil Safarov, now 35, to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years for the nationalism-fueled killing.

Safarov was found guilty after he confessed to hacking to death Gurgen Markarian, an Armenian army officer, while both were in Hungary for a language course in 2004 organized by NATO.

Safarov reportedly said at the trial that he killed the Armenian for an "insult to the Azerbaijani national flag."

Safarov's lawyers had claimed during the trial that the defendant had been traumatized because some of his relatives were killed after the outbreak of war in the 1990s with Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-controlled separatist region in Azerbaijan. They alleged that Markarian had insulted Safarov's homeland.

European Union and NATO member Hungary said earlier on August 31 that its decision to send Safarov back to Azerbaijan was based on the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Budapest said he was repatriated only after demanding and receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani Justice Ministry that Safarov's sentence would be enforced.

In a statement from Baku, Azerbaijani President Aliyev said Safarov was being "released from serving his life sentence."

Yerevan 'Cannot Tolerate' Release

Within hours of the pardon, Armenian President Sarkisian told an emergency meeting of that country's National Security Council that Hungary had made a "grave mistake," and soon after he announced the interruption in diplomatic ties.

He announced the decision at a meeting with Yerevan-based foreign ambassadors and representatives of international organizations.

“With these joint actions, Hungary’s and Azerbaijan’s authorities have cleared the way for a repeat of such crimes,” Sarkisian told the envoys. “They are sending a message to murderers. They [murderers] know now that a murder committed on the basis of religious or ethnic hatred can go unpunished.”

“I cannot tolerate that,” Sarkisian said. “The Republic of Armenia cannot tolerate that. The Armenian people will not forgive that.”

“I am officially declaring that today we are suspending diplomatic relations and all official contacts with Hungary,” he added.

Armenia and Hungary have no embassies in each other’s capitals. The Armenian ambassador to that Central European state is based in Vienna.

Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan remain high, with the two countries still locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-controlled separatist region in Azerbaijan.

Sarkisian also ordered Armenian forces on a high alert after Safarov's release.

In Washington, the White House said President Barack Obama was "deeply concerned" at the Azerbaijani pardon and was seeking an explanation from Budapest as to why the convicted man was handed over to Baku.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Armenian and Azerbaijani services; with additional reporting by Trend, AP, AFP, and Interfax
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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 5
by: Darwin Jamgochian from: America
August 31, 2012 13:03
Why not post a picture of the victim? Let's make it fair and balanced!

by: VTiger from: China
August 31, 2012 13:21
Time will come when Safarov will be sentenced in Armenian.Just wait & see.We don't let murderers go unpunished.

by: Human Conscience
August 31, 2012 13:29
Gurgen Markarian was not killed simply "during NATO exercises" but during "NATO Partnership for Peace program" in Budapest.

It is appalling that while RFERL mentions the justifications of the killer, it fails to mention the cruelty of the crime (being axed while asleep in a peace partnership program!!)

"A Budapest policeman commented that the murder had been conducted "with unusual cruelty," adding "beside a number of knife wounds on his chest, the victim's head was practically severed from his body."

Welcome to 2012 online, how a single oil transaction can bail out an inhumane killer out of his sentence.

From August 23, "Azerbaijan is looking to buy Hungarian government bonds of 2 to 3 year maturity, on a scale of EUR 2 to 3 billion, Hungarian weekly Figyelő learned from an Economy Ministry source."

So what free Europe are we talking about? banana republic at best
In Response

by: Barna from: Budapest, Hungary
September 01, 2012 12:59
I do believe the extradition was the wrong decision on part of our gonernment, though the reasoning seems to be somewhat reasonable.

Firstly, according to Hungarian officials it has been concluded that this man will serve his sentence as per the Hungarian verdict, even if extrodited to Azerbaijan.

Though this could be expected to be not exactly the case, normally in such cases the issue is reviewed after a period of time, usually not much before the minimal punishment within the sentencing country has expired.

He has served 9 years now, under Hungarian law he would have the possibility to request a parole in 6 years. Given that he was from a decent background and a stable life back at home (aka not a maffia member) he is very likely to have been released. This is nothing exceptional, neither in Europe nor in the US, or any other western country.

Secondly, yes our government is looking into both an international bond issue to be able to stabilize the country debt, and trying to establish prospects for future gas supplies. At the moment most of Europe is fully Russian dependent. We have the gas storages which supply the entire Balkan region, when the gas is cut off, as it has happened during January 2009. We were on rations for weeks, not to mention the economic impact (January -25°C (-13°F) is not exceptional where I live, but most of the Balkan mountain regions have it much worse).

Given the above expected (release in 6 years), and the usual course of action in such international cases 2-3 years may have been cut from his sentence under the normal circumstances. Add to this the persistent European debt crisis and economic situation and there you go, there is a logic behind it. And just about the point on banana republics, I would like to add that it is easy to call someone a banana republic until it is not you freezing to death without heating in your own house.

I know it seems cruel, and honestly I would not be able to get over it much easier, but life is never black and white, and while this decision has been played by the Azeri side on a way that it puts us to shame, I do not think that the majority of the blame is rightfully on the Hungarian side on this case.

All in all, I do not think they should have released him, and whatever it is worth I do think that majority of the hungarians do feel as I myself, ashamed and fully apologetic about the final decision. Our government might have thought this price is worth paying for a greater good, we do not.
In Response

by: Mani
September 01, 2012 16:27
You hold the blood of the victim who was hacked to death in his sleep over your head. You as a country are GULITY of complicity in this murder and release of murderer, knowing FULL WELL that the murderer will become an instant free man and "hero" in his land of murderers. I hold you all as a nation responsible for this heinous complicity in crime... please answer me if the murdered officer was a JEW, would you have done the same? NO WAY!!! SHAME ON YOU AND YOUR COUNTRY.
In Response

by: VTiger from: China
September 01, 2012 16:50
Barna,I personally appreciate your explanations & sincere feelings.However there are definitely corrupt politicians in your government & they do not care if hungary's name is tarnished internationally.Please read what happened today:
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev has promoted Ramil Safarov from the rank of Lieutenant to Major, a day after the latter was extradited to Azerbaijan from Hungary and received a pardon from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, reported

Abiyev congratulated Safarov on his return to the country. The Ministry also awarded Safarov over eight years’ worth of salary for the time he spent in a Hungarian prison, and gifted him with an apartment.
In Response

by: Kristine
September 02, 2012 19:34

I have been in Hungary twice and I personally respect Hungarian people. I wish many Armenians could see the difference between Hungarian people/country and the government, but the feeling of humiliation overwhelms and they don't care.

The extradition might be perfectly implemented from the legal point of view, but it violated certain ethical norms in international relations. The victim was not a Hungarian citizen, and extradition should not be a sole decision of your government. This was an explicit and conscious act of disrespect with all consequences (pardoning, making national hero) known well before.

P.S. Armenians had years of starvation and cold winters without gas or electricity in their homes in 1988-1995 with a war at their borders, and 300,000 war refugees and half a million earthquake victims in the streets.

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
August 31, 2012 15:00
I apologize for the move done by my country. Probably we sent Safarov back to Azerbaijan because Azeri officials in their private meetings on the sidelines of talks about gas pipelines asked this.

Hungary wants alternative gas supplies - to decrease dependence on Russia - and a murder like Safarov was a bargaining chip.

That's a shame for Hungary we need to admit...

I apologize again. Sorry Armenia.
In Response

by: Lowly Peruser from: Planet Earth
August 31, 2012 20:13
A country has no friends or foes, only interests. Get used to it, sentimentalism is stupidity.
In Response

by: VTiger from: China
September 01, 2012 08:11
So there is no justice,principles,morality?How about if the assassinated was your brother or son?I assure you that you would have thought millions of times before writing such a comment.
In Response

by: Musa from: Azerbaijan
August 31, 2012 20:42
No need to apologize! there are blood stains of innocent victims on the hands on the hands of each government official in Armenia.
In Response

by: VTiger from: China
September 01, 2012 08:28
Musa,blood stains as well on the hands of your autocratic sultanate leadership.During Eurovision period we saw what your police state doing with honorable Azeri demonstrators.Anyway we will bring the murderer to justice & he's a marked man.
In Response

by: mikayel from: Armenia
August 31, 2012 21:18
Thank you, Zoltan. I hope you understand that we don't put equal sign between your government and your people.
In Response

by: The Hunter from: UK
August 31, 2012 22:58
No apology Zoltan. Your country is guided by international law and did nothing wrong!

Azerbaijan is a country of peace loving and friendly people while Armenians are liars and ungrateful beggars living at the expense of other cultures and exploiting them by spreading Mythical Genocide to expand Mythical Armenia. For your information, Armenians are not Caucasians and they have just arrived in Georgia, Transcaucasia as refugees after WW1, then these shameless ungrateful stateless Armenians were being established by Russians at the expense of Azerbaijan Republic for future troubles to claim more territories from Georgia and Azerbaijan.

During WW2, it was actually an Armenian (another ungrateful refugee in Hungary, like "French" Sarkozy) as head of state who had murdered millions of Jews putting a shame on Hungary!

Thanks for attention and understanding !

In Response

by: Concerned from: The world
September 01, 2012 15:14
@the hunter
Your words are filled with the same hatred that fueled this senseless murder and are not based on any facts. Please read into why you believe the things you do taking into account heavy bias and propaganda. Think critically...
In Response

by: Kristine
September 02, 2012 19:37
History is certainly not your domain, the hunter, take an axe.
In Response

by: David from: Canada
August 31, 2012 23:33
Thank you for your comment, apologies accepted. Please make up the case to your Government through all channels that you have!
In Response

by: VTiger from: China
September 01, 2012 08:25
Zoltan,thank you for your sincere feelings.But you, as a Hungarian national you should ask your government as to why no guarantees were taken to imprison the murderer & in case they were taken why your government is not inquiring,objecting,shouting of the murderer's pardon in Baku by the sultan Aliyev?Unfortunately this has tarnished Hungary's image.May be your country as well has too many corrupt politicians & judges.Such characters in any government never lead to bright future.
In Response

by: Attila from: Magyarorszag
September 01, 2012 22:01
Who can guarantee that this "Zoltan" is actually from Hungary? Hungary has nothing to apologise for before Armenian gangster regime of Sarkisyan. These are war criminals whose hands are full of blood of innocents of Khojaly and dozens of civilians of Azerbaijani towns and villages in Karabakh!
In Response

by: Károly from: Budapest
September 02, 2012 22:10
Attila I as a Hungarian, could care less about your Turkish racist comment and I join Zoltan and in truly, deeply and sorrowfully apologizing to my Armenian friends all the Armenian Nation. We are truly sorry Armenia, I know your pain and anger and am getting to know that Turks and Azeris are becoming more and more barbarians and nazis in my eyes. Attila since you are from Magyarorszag, let me tell you that a hülyeség nem korlátozza.
In Response

by: Kristine from: Armenia
September 02, 2012 19:41
Thank you Zoltan, the feeling of humiliation is overwhelming among Armenians and they don't care about the difference between Hungarian government and people. Hopefully, this will pass.
In Response

by: greg from: virginia
September 04, 2012 19:14
thanks for the apology Zoltan. it is unfortunate that the Azeri gov't so recklessly abused its relationship with you that they made a diplomatic agreement (incarcerating Safarov on his return to AZ) into a lie, and have spent the past several days in several instances mocking your government and the rest of the civilized world for taking issue with such a premeditated diplomatic fabrication. I can think of two other instances where a national government knowingly, and in a premeditated manner, fabricated an international agreement in order to gain the upper hand and then reneg - The Nazi government's 1938 agreement with Neville Chamberlain to not make any further european territorial claims- The same Nazi government concluding a non-aggression pact with the Soviet union in exchange for a promise of non-intervention during Hitlers invasion of Poland. Nazi Germany / Hitler = The Azerbaijani govt' / Aliev. Again, i appreciate your apology and hope your leaders do not soon enter into another agreement where the terms cannot be enforced if the other country renegs.

by: Sarkis Dallakian
August 31, 2012 15:22
This just proves that Azer President is a liar, has no integrity, and should never be trusted.

by: Al from: FR
August 31, 2012 17:01
Welcome to this world of corrupt, rotten, money loving people and governments who would do anything for a few bucks! Shame on you Hungry!

by: Gregory
August 31, 2012 17:39
the article represents one-side compilation and is full of azeri misinformation

August 31, 2012 17:44

by: Concerned Armenian from: Armenia
August 31, 2012 18:11
Typical Western/NATO provocation, typical Turkic behavior.
In Response

by: Concerned Azerbaijani from: SHUSHA, Azerbaijan
September 02, 2012 15:36
Typical racist comment by a person caught in an Armenian decease.

by: LG from: USA
August 31, 2012 18:11
Not surprising since the government of Orban in Budapest are fascists, and of course there are no words to describe the sultanate of baku.
In Response

by: LowlyPeruser from: Planet Earth
August 31, 2012 20:09
Fascists. Surely. And you don't even have to scratch your head for any more thoughtful reasoning.
In Response

by: re-LG
September 01, 2012 01:45
I am surprised that the moderator of this journal allows such comments. To say that a democratic government of a NATO-member country is fascist is just like saying that the US government is the friend of a fascist country. I think this kind of statements are highly illegal and should be forbidden.
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