A detained resident of an Azerbaijani border village was sent back to Azerbaijan on Friday two weeks after crossing into Armenia in still unclear circumstances.
The 41-year-old man, Telman Aliyev, was repatriated by land at the westernmost section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
ICRC representatives were allowed to visit Aliyev shortly after he was detained by Armenian troops stationed in the area. Armenia’s Defense Ministry announced his imminent “unilateral handover” earlier this week.
The military and other authorities in Yerevan have not said whether they think Aliyev crossed the heavily militarized border deliberately or by accident.
Throughout the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, civilian residents of Armenian and Azerbaijani settlements located close to the frontier have occasionally crossed it, usually because of going astray.
In one such incident, Manvel Saribekian, a 20-year-old Armenian villager, was captured by Azerbaijani border troops in September 2010. Saribekian was found hanged in an Azerbaijani prison cell three weeks later.
The Azerbaijani government said he committed suicide, a claim strongly denied by the Armenian authorities. Citing traces of violence on the young man’s body, they said he was brutally tortured and murdered in Azerbaijani custody.
Saribekian’s body was subsequently swapped for a living Azerbaijani civilian who was detained in Armenia in 2009.