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Parents Of Dead Azerbaijani Soldiers Criticize Probe

BAKU -- The parents of Azerbaijani soldiers killed earlier this year in what the Defense Ministry called "a serious crime" say officials did not properly investigate the case, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

On February 19, seven soldiers in the Shamkir Corps military unit in the western Goygol district were found dead with gunshot wounds. All of those killed were between the ages of 20 and 21.

The Defense Ministry and Military Prosecutor's Office investigated the incident but several of the parents told RFE/RL that the investigation ended with an explanation they don't believe and said the probe was not properly conducted.

Raisa Quliyeva, mother of Naib Quliyev, one of the soldiers killed in the incident, told RFE/RL her son returned to his military unit from leave on February 17, two days before the incident.

"The documents [from the report] contain confusing information for us," she said. "We don't know whom to believe."

Etibar Quliyev, father of killed soldier Zakir Quliyev, told RFE/RL the documents they saw before the investigation ended indicated that the incident occured because two soldiers were being abused.

The official report stated that the killings were committed by Zakir Quliyev, who was reportedly upset at being mistreated by fellow soldier Nurlan Suanverdiyev. The report says Quliyev shot six soldiers while they were asleep and then killed himself.

The parents say their sons were friendly with one another and would not abuse someone. They added that even if there was some maltreatment there must be some other explanation for the killings.

The Military Prosecutor's Office told RFE/RL that criminal proceedings in the case were dropped because the person who committed the crime had died.

The prosecutor said nine officers at the military unit have been arrested for abusive treatment in a separate case and are being tried now in a Ganca city court.

But the parents say the arrest of the officers is an attempt to distract attention from their case and from other abuse that has taken place in the military unit.