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ECHR Finds Azerbaijan Discriminatory But not in Charge of the Killing of the Armenian Officer in Hungary 

The European Court of Human Rights has released its judgement over “Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and  Hungary” case implicating the presidential pardon given to murderer Ramil Safarov convicted in Hungary and then extradited to Azerbaijan, his release and hero’s welcome.

In 2004, Ramil Safarov, a military officer attending a 3-month NATO language training in Hungary axed Armenian army officer Gurgen Margaryan on the same program during his sleep and attempted to kill another officer from Armenia, Makuchyan, but failed before being apprehended. The claim was presented by Makuchyan and Margaryan’s relative Minasyan. Safarov was convicted to a life sentence in Hungary and served 8 years in Hungarian prison, however in 2012, after Hungary’s President Viktor Orban’s visit to Baku, a decision was made to extradite Safarov to Baku, where he was given a president pardon, released from sentence, given material endowments for the 8 years he spent in prison, including a flat, promoted at the Military. During his conviction in Hungary he acknowledged that he murdered Margaryan because he was Armenian. 

The court has ruled that, “there had been no substantive violation by Azerbaijan on Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human rights, but there had been a procedural violation by Azerbaijan on the same article. There had also been no procedural violation by Hungary on Article 2.”

The court recognized, however, that “there had been a violation by Azerbaijan of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) take in conjunction with Article 2.”

Neither Azerbaijani, nor Hungarian governments had failed to comply with Article 38 (obligation to furnish necessary facilities for the examination of the case), said the Court.

The Court found that “although Azerbaijan had clearly endorsed Ramil Safarov’s acts, not only by releasing him but also by promoting him, paying him salary arrears and granting him a flat upon his return, it could not be held responsible under the stringent standards of international law which required a State to “acknowledge” such acts “as its own”. Moreover, those acts had been part of a private decision and had been so flagrantly abusive and far removed from the official status of a military officer that the Court could not see how his commanding officers could have foreseen them or how Azerbaijan could be responsible for them just because he was a State agent.

However, it found that there had been no justification for the Azerbaijani authorities’ failure to  enforce the punishment of Ramil Safarov and to in effect grant him impunity for a serious hate crime. Moreover, the applicants had provided sufficient evidence to show that Ramil Safarov’s pardon and other measures in his favour had been ethnically motivated.”

Although the applicants did not claim for any monetary compensation, the judgement obliged Azerbaijan to pay the applicants 15.143 GB pounds for court-related costs.