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Sara Petrosyan

Azerbaijan Guilty: European Court Issues Landmark Decision in 2016 Killing of Armenian Soldiers

On December 19, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), for the first time, issued a verdict in the case of a soldier killed during active armed conflict.

The ECHR’s decision relates to the killing of three Armenian soldiers by an Azerbaijani armed unit that infiltrated the Tavush border of Armenia on December 29, 2016.

One Azerbaijani solider was killed in the border clash near the Tavush village of Chinari.

The case, brought by relatives of the three Armenian soldiers, obligates Azerbaijan to pay the families EUR 16,000 in non-pecuniary damages and EUR 2,780 to cover legal expenses.

Ara Ghazaryan, a Yerevan lawyer representing the plaintiffs, tells Hetq the Court usually rejects such complaints since the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply during active warfare.

"In the case of the unnecessary killing of a person, even if it is done during a war operation, you can raise the question of human rights. This time, the ECHR gave the advantage to human rights," says Ghazaryan.

Ghazaryan says he and his legal team substantiated that Azerbaijani soldier Çingiz Gurbanov initiated the shooting while acting as a state agent of Azerbaijan, thus violating Armenia’s territorial jurisdiction.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, to prove the lawyer’s point, publicly announced that Gurbanov was “their soldier, awarding him the title of national hero and giving him an apartment.

Ghazaryan believes the Court’s decision opens the door to examine Azerbaijani war crimes during the 2016 Four-Day War.

Photo: Ara Ghazaryan

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