According to Azerbaijani media, Rashid Beglarian, who, Armenians say, strayed into an Azerbaijani-controlled territory near Nagorno-Karabakh on August 1, has been charged on five counts of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan, including “torturing Azerbaijani prisoners” and “participating in the activities of illegal armed groups.”
Citing the country’s State Security Service, Azerbaijan’s APA news agency also reported that Beglarian admitted that “ethnic Armenian forces, including himself, ambushed and gunned down 200 Azeri civilians, most of them women, children and elderly people” during February 1992 events near the Karabakh town of Khojaly (Khojalu) that Azerbaijan claims amounted to genocide.
The Armenian side has denied that Armenian forces targeted civilians during one of their early offensives in the 1992-1994 war, blaming the killings on the Azerbaijani forces allegedly seeking to prevent the evacuation of Khojaly’s ethnic Azeri residents.
Earlier this month, a court in Baku sentenced another Karabakh Armenian man Vagif Khachatrian to 15 years in prison after finding him guilty of “genocide” and “forced deportation of civilians,” charges that Khachatrian denied vehemently throughout the trial.
Khachatrian, 68, was detained by Azerbaijan’s military in late July as he was trying to leave Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia. Armenia then also accused Azerbaijan of “kidnapping” a Karabakh resident.
Virtually the entire Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh – more than 100,000 people – fled to Armenia two months ago after Azerbaijan carried out a 24-hour offensive to take the entire region under its control.
Eight current and former ethnic Armenian leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh, including three former presidents, have been detained by Azerbaijani forces and transferred to Baku where they are imprisoned pending trial on grave criminal charges.
Baku has so far acknowledged only nine Karabakh detainees. Armenia insists that their number is at least 16. The figure does not include 30 Karabakh soldiers and 12 civilians who are said to have gone missing during the Azerbaijani assault and remain unaccounted for.