Mamikon Khojoyan, a 77-year-old resident of an Armenian border village, died on Tuesday more than two months after returning home from captivity in Azerbaijan with what appeared to be serious injuries.
Khojoyan, crossed into Azerbaijan from his Verin Karmiraghbyur village in Armenia’s northern Tavush region in unclear circumstances on January 28. He was detained by Azerbaijani villagers and handed over to military authorities.
The authorities in Baku claimed afterwards that Khojoyan was part of an Armenian commando squad that attempted to carry out a cross-border incursion. The Armenian military and Verin Karmiraghbyur residents dismissed these claims, saying that he suffered from mental disorders and strayed into Azerbaijani territory by accident.
The elderly man was set free and repatriated to Armenia with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross on March 4. He was immediately hospitalized. An RFE/RL correspondent who was allowed to visit Khojoyan at a Tavush hospital saw wounds all over his body. Doctors there suggested that he was injured in Azerbaijani custody. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry denied that he was tortured.
Khojoyan underwent further treatment in Yerevan before returning to Verin Karmiraghbyur last month. According to Kamo Chobanian, the village mayor, his health condition sharply deteriorated a week ago. “The torture suffered in captivity has had its effects,” he said of the villager’s death.
Just days after Khojoyan’s release, another Verin Karmiraghbyur resident crossed the border with Azerbaijan and was detained in similar circumstances. The 23-year-old Arsen Khojoyan was freed a month later. He assured journalists in Yerevan that he was not ill-treated in detention.