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NATO Chief 'Deeply Concerned' Over Azerbaijani Killer Pardon

NATO Chief 'Deeply Concerned' Over Azerbaijani Pardon
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WATCH: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen talks to RFE/RL's Armenian Service.

YEREVAN -- NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says he's "deeply concerned" about Azerbaijan's pardon of a soldier who who was sentenced to life in prison for the ax-murder of an Armenian officer during a NATO training course.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Rasmussen said the 2004 murder in Hungary was a terrible crime and should not be glorified.

Rasmussen, who spoke during a visit to Yerevan, said he intends to voice his concerns to Azerbaijani leaders when he visits Baku on September 7.

Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have escalated since Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pardoned the officer hours after he returned to Azerbaijan on August 31.

The man was subsequently promoted in the military and given eight years of back pay, and according to some reports given an apartment.

Hungary, where the officer had been jailed for life, says it returned the officer to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances that at least 25 years of the life sentence would be enforced.

Armenia announced it was cutting off diplomatic and other official ties with Hungary over the handover.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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