An Azerbaijani soldier crossed into northeastern Armenia and surrendered to Armenian troops stationed there at the weekend, claiming to have been ill-treated by his commanders, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said on Wednesday.
According to the ministry spokesman, Colonel Seyran Shahsuvarian, Yaghub Mukhtarov, 19, told Armenian military officials that he decided to desert from his army unit in western Azerbaijan after being refused medical assistance and beaten up by its officers. Shahsuvarian said his body bore “numerous traces of severe beating.”
The incident was reported just over a month after Armenia deported to an unnamed European country an Azerbaijani army conscript who had reportedly been taken prisoner in similar circumstances in December 2006. According to the Armenian military, Samir Mamedov claimed to have been systematically mistreated and humiliated by his comrades and asked not to be repatriated.
Mamedov’s escape came the day after the repatriation of another Azerbaijani soldier who spent two weeks in Armenian captivity. The soldier, Vusal Garajayev, was convicted of high treason and sentenced him to 11 years in prison by a military court in Baku in May 2007.
For its part, Azerbaijan released in late January an Armenian serviceman taken prisoner by Azerbaijani forces in August 2007 after deserting from his army unit deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh. Private Hambartsum Asatrian claimed that he mistakenly strayed into Azerbaijani-controlled territory north of Karabakh.