Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan probes war crimes during the conflict

WION Web Team
Baku, Azerbaijan Published: Nov 25, 2020, 10.05 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( AFP )

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Videos circulated on social media during the fighting that allegedly showed executions of Armenian prisoners of war by Azerbaijani troops and Armenian soldiers defiling the bodies of Azerbaijani servicemen

Azerbaijan is investigating the alleged war crimes committed by both Azerbaijan and Armenian forces during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan's prosecutor general confirmed this to AFP on Wednesday. Both countries have traded accusations of war crimes. The conflict overe Nagorno-Karabakh erupted in late September.

Videos circulated on social media during the fighting that allegedly showed executions of Armenian prisoners of war by Azerbaijani troops and Armenian soldiers defiling the bodies of Azerbaijani servicemen.

Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev told AFP his office was studying the footage as part of a probe into inhumane treatment of Azerbaijani prisoners and the defilement of bodies of Azerbaijani troops.

"We have also initiated an investigation into inhumane treatment of Armenian servicemen that were taken prisoner," he said in an interview.

"There are many fake videos. But we must say frankly that there also are videos which could be authentic," he said. "Azerbaijan is a law-based state and we are reacting to such facts."

He said that Azerbaijan had also initiated 73 criminal cases of Armenian forces shelling civilian targets in Azerbaijan.

The attacks "claimed the lives of 94 civilians, including small children, women and elderly people," Aliyev said, adding that four Armenian separatist leaders -- including the president of the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh republic, Arayik Harutyunyan -- were charged with war crimes in absentia.

'Foreign mercenaries'

Aliyev told AFP his office as well as Azerbaijan's state security services are also investigating the use of foreign fighters by Armenian separatists.

Baku has claimed Armenians from the diaspora were deployed in Karabakh, while Yerevan has accused Turkey of sending mercenaries from northern Syria to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces -- a claim both Baku and its staunch ally Ankara have denied.

"The mercenaries were mostly ethnic Armenians from other countries," Aliyev said.

"Among those wanted are nationals of France, Georgia, residents of Crimea as well as fighters from the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)," he added.

PKK, which is based in Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan, has for decades waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey and is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

Aliyev said that a number of the criminal investigations "concern instances of Armenians targeting Azerbaijan's strategic infrastructure," including missiles launched towards Azerbaijan's Mingechavir hydropower plant and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that pumps Caspian Sea oil to Europe.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan nearly 30 years ago but has not been recognised internationally, even by Armenia.

The fighting that erupted on September 27 persisted despite efforts by France, Russia and the United States to broker ceasefires.

A Moscow-brokered peace deal was announced on November 10 after Azerbaijan's military overwhelmed Armenian separatist forces and threatened to advance on Karabakh's main city Stepanakert.

Under the agreement, Armenia is losing control of seven districts seized during the post-Soviet war in the 1990s, which killed 30,000 people and displaced many Azerbaijanis that used to live there.

(With AFP inputs)

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