A 77-year-old resident of an Armenian border village was freed and sent back to Armenia on Tuesday more than a month after being detained in Azerbaijan.
Mamikon Khojoyan was repatriated through the westernmost section of the heavily militarized Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The handover was arranged and carried out by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). ICRC officials in Baku had visited Khojoyan in Azerbaijani custody.
The elderly resident of Verin Karmiraghbyur, a village in Armenia’s northern Tavush region, crossed into Azerbaijan in unclear circumstances on January 28. He was detained by Azerbaijani villagers and handed over to military authorities.
The authorities in Baku have claimed all along that Khojoyan was part of an Armenian commando squad that attempted to carry out a cross-border incursion. The Armenian military and the Verin Karmiraghbyur mayor, Kamo Chobanian, have laughed off official these claims. According to Chobanian, Khojoyan suffered from mental disorders and strayed into Azerbaijani territory by accident.
Khojoyan was paraded on Azerbaijani television shortly after being captured. He was shown sitting on a hospital bed, with his right arm in a cast. Azerbaijani officials said he received medical assistance.
Khojoyan was taken to a hospital in Tavush’s capital Ijevan for examination immediately being set free. The Armenian Defense Ministry said afterwards that doctors found “numerous bruises, bone fractures and injuries” on his body. It said Khojoyan suffered those injuries during his captivity.
Chobanian told Panorama.am that Khojoyan will spend the next few days in the hospital to recover from the “numerous traces of violence.” “He didn’t recognize anyone and almost didn’t talk,” said the village mayor. “He only told a doctor that he has slept on a concrete floor during all this time.”