Azerbaijani authorities have reportedly repatriated an Armenian citizen who crossed the border into Azerbaijan’s exclave of Nakhijevan under yet unclear circumstances earlier this month and was apprehended by local border guards.
Armen Kaprielian, the head of the Armenian government-affiliated Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons, told News.am on Tuesday that Henrik Aghekian, a 62-year-old resident of the village of Aygepat in Armenia’s Ararat province, was returned to Armenia earlier that day.
According to preliminary information, the man’s health condition was normal and he was to be taken to hospital for a medical examination, the news website reported.
Azerbaijan’s State Commission on POWs, Hostages and Missing Persons reported on August 13 that six days earlier Azerbaijani servicemen detained a citizen of Armenia at the Sadarak section of the road leading to Nakhijevan. It said it had informed the International Committee of the Red Cross about the incident.
The ICRC was in contact with Azerbaijani authorities over the incident and its representatives visited Aghekian on August 17.
Earlier, Kaprielian said that Aghekian suffered from a mental disorder and had crossed the border inadvertently. “In the past he also used to go missing for several days, but his relatives managed to find him and return home,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) last week.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a bitter conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since the late 1980s.
The region populated mainly by ethnic Armenians declared independence from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, which sparked a three-year war that killed an estimated 30,000 people.
Dozens of soldiers as well as civilians were killed on both sides when hostilities briefly erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh in April.
Civilian residents of Armenian and Azerbaijani border villages have occasionally crossed the heavily militarized border between the two conflicting states by accident.
As recently as in July Armenian authorities repatriated through the ICRC an Azerbaijani woman who had crossed the border into Armenia’s northeastern region of Tavush in unclear circumstances. The woman was reportedly placed in a psychiatric clinic in Azerbaijan after repatriation.
Last November, a 77-year-old Armenia woman from Tavush reportedly lost her way and found herself in Azerbaijani territory. She was repatriated within four days after she crossed the border.
At least three other Tavush residents strayed into Azerbaijan and were captured there in 2014. Two of them were branded Armenian “saboteurs” by the authorities in Baku and died shortly afterwards.