Another resident of a border village in northern Armenia has been detained in Azerbaijan after apparently crossing into Azerbaijani territory by accident, Armenian officials confirmed over the weekend.
Arsen Khojoyan, 23, reportedly crossed the border on Friday evening just three days after the Azerbaijani authorities freed another resident of his Verin Karmiraghbyur village following a more than month-long captivity. The 77-year-old Mamikon Khojoyan turned out to be Arsen’s distant relative.
According to Azerbaijani news reports, Arsen Khojoyan was taken to Baku and incarcerated there immediately after his capture. There has been no fresh information about his fate since then.
Armen Kaprielian, a senior official from an Armenian government body dealing with prisoners of war and missing persons, said on Saturday that it has asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit Khojoyan in custody. Kaprielian also said authorities in Armenia are now “clarifying the circumstances” of his disappearance.
The village mayor, Kamo Chobanian, suggested that Khojoyan accidentally crossed the heavily militarized border because of heavy fog that blanketed parts of Armenia’s Tavush province bordering the Tovuz district in western Azerbaijan. Chobanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the young man grazed sheep near a border section through which Mamikon Khojoyan is thought to have entered Azerbaijan on January 28.
Azerbaijani military officials were quick to accuse the 77-year-old villager reportedly suffering from mental disorders of being part of an Armenian commando squad that allegedly tried to carry out cross-border sabotage attacks. Chobanian and officials in Yerevan have laughed off those allegations.
Mamikon Khojoyan was repatriated with the help of the ICRC on March 4. He had numerous injuries and required immediate hospitalization, leading the Armenian government to accuse Baku of torturing the elderly man. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denied the accusations.
Khojoyan was transferred from a Tavush hospital to a bigger medical center in Yerevan late last week. Doctors there described his condition as grave.