Authorities in Azerbaijan have arrested and charged with high treason an Azerbaijani army soldier who was released from captivity in Nagorno-Karabakh last month, it was reported on Wednesday.
Sergeant Anar Hajiyev was taken prisoner by Karabakh Armenian forces in unclear circumstances in May 2009. He was exchanged for a civilian resident of Armenia on March 17.
It was the latest in a series of prisoner exchanges arranged by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in accordance with an agreement reached by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents last October.
According to Elchin Behbudov, head of the Baku-based Committee Against Torture, Hajiyev is now under arrest pending trial on treason charges. Behbudov told the APA news agency that he visited the serviceman kept at a detention center of the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security on Wednesday.
“Elchin Hajiyev considers himself guilty,” he said. “He said he regrets what he did. They have provided him with a lawyer.”
Behbudov gave no details of the criminal case against Hajiyev.
The imprisonment of former prisoners of war freed by the Armenians has reportedly been the norm in Azerbaijan. One of them was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a military court in Baku in 2007.
Some of the former Armenian POWs are also known to have been prosecuted after their repatriation.