Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have expressed readiness to set free and repatriate an Azerbaijani teenager who crossed into the Armenian-controlled territory in unclear circumstances late last week.
Javid Mammadov, a 15-year-old resident of an Azerbaijani town just northeast of Karabakh, was detained by Karabakh Armenian forces at a local section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, a Karabakh commission dealing with prisoners of war and civilian captives said the authorities in Stepanakert are ready to demonstrate “good will” and free Mammadov. It set no conditions for the release.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reportedly indicated on Wednesday that it is ready to organize the boy’s repatriation and is now discussing the matter with the relevant parties. The APA news agency quoted an ICRC spokesperson in Baku as saying that the Red Cross will step in only if Mammadov agrees to return home.
ICRC representatives in Stepanakert visited Mammadov in custody on Sunday, two days after his capture. He handed them a letter that was delivered to his family living in Azerbaijan’s Terter district.
The Karabakh commission insisted that Mammadov willingly crossed the heavily militarized frontline but said nothing about his motives. Some Azerbaijani officials have claimed that he was kidnapped by an Armenian commando squad.
The captive’s father, Samir Mammadov, is the deputy chief of the Terter traffic police. According to Azerbaijani media, he was hospitalized with heart problems after learning about his son’s arrest by the Karabakh Armenians. He is said to have refused to comment on the incident.
Javid’s uncle, Sanan Mammadov, was quoted by Azerbaijani news agencies as saying over the weekend, “He often went down to the river and fished there with friends. It is not clear how he ended up in the territory of Armenia.”