AZERBAIJAN has been accused of war crimes after lawyers claimed that 19 Armenian prisoners of war had been tortured and executed today.
Artak Zeynalyan and Siranush Sahakyan, who represent the captives at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), said that they had filed a case there calling for Azerbaijan to be held accountable.
The Armenian soldiers were taken as prisoners last year during the six-week war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, a landlocked majority-Armenian territory inside Azerbaijan.
The bitter conflict saw accusations of war crimes, such as the beheading of civilians by Azeri troops. Amnesty International condemned the use of banned cluster bombs used on civilian targets, including in the regional capital Stepanakert.
A Russian-brokered peace deal led to anger in Armenia and mass protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who they felt ceded too much Armenian territory.
He stood down last month and called snap elections which analysts expect him to win, but with a reduced majority, possibly requiring a coalition to form a cabinet.
“During the Second Artsakh War, which was started on September 27, 2020, as well as after the signing of the tripartite agreement on November 9, 2020, Armenian civilians and servicemen continued to be taken prisoner by Azerbaijan,” a statement from the lawyers said.
“Nineteen of those prisoners of war, who have appeared in captivity, have been tortured and killed by the Azerbaijani servicemen, which is a war crime.”
Meanwhile two Syrian nationals, Muhrab al-Shkheri and Yusef al-Haji, have been sentenced to life imprisonment in Armenia on international terrorism charges for their role in the conflict.
The mercenaries were part of a number from the Free Syrian Army that were shipped in by Turkey to fight alongside Azeri troops.
They were accused of actions aimed at killing or seriously injuring civilians who were not involved in the hostilities.
Ankara recruited the jihadists from the battlefield of Syria, where they had been fighting alongside Turkish troops in the illegal invasion and occupation of Afrin, part of the Kurdish enclave known as Rojava.
Turkey has been accused of deploying jihadists in a number of arenas including Libya, where the militia helped swing its civil war in favour of the Government of National Accord.
The government of Azerbaijan was contacted for comment.