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Staged Trial of Abducted Armenian Soldiers Sparks Outrage and Legal Battle, Attorney Vows Defiance


Yeghishe Kirakosyan

As the trial of two kidnapped Armenian soldiers, Harutyun Hovakimyan and Karen Ghazaryan, gets underway in Sumgait, international legal experts and human rights advocates have voiced concerns over the proceedings, labeling them as "obviously illegal" and staged. Accused by Azerbaijan of various charges, including illegally crossing the border, violence against Azerbaijani border guards, attempted terrorism, and weapons smuggling, the trial has drawn sharp scrutiny from Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia's representative on international legal matters.


The soldiers were abducted on May 26 from sovereign Armenian territory while delivering essential supplies to combat positions. The trial has ignited a debate on the fairness of the legal process and the treatment of the captured servicemen.


Kirakosyan has announced his intent to challenge the legitimacy of the trial. "We will present certain questions to the court in order to clarify the processes we observed during the trial," Kirakosyan stated. He raised parallels to past illegal trials against Armenian prisoners and pledged to continue defending their rights.


Following the abduction incident, Armenia took the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), seeking interim measures against Azerbaijan. Kirakosyan highlighted that the interim measures applied in 2020 for the protection of prisoners' rights during and after the 44-day war are still in effect for the two Armenian servicemen. Additionally, a second interstate complaint lodged by Armenia against Azerbaijan addresses illegal trials, rights violations, and unlawful deprivation of liberty.


Kirakosyan underscored the relevance of the European Convention's Article 6.5 in relation to the case and expressed ongoing efforts to address these concerns within the scope of the complaint.


Azerbaijan has responded to Armenia's application submitted to the European Court regarding the Lachin Corridor issue. In January, Armenia's representative requested the European Court to notify the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers about Azerbaijan's non-compliance with the ECHR decision from December 2022. The decision had obligated Azerbaijan to facilitate the movement of patients and homeless individuals through the Lachin Corridor. Azerbaijan's response is under review, with Armenia expected to present its position by July 10.


Additionally, Kirakosyan informed that a letter was sent to the UN International Court of Justice on June 30, outlining the worsening humanitarian situation in Artsakh due to the Lachin Corridor's closure. He urged the court to expedite a decision, emphasizing the dire circumstances affecting areas such as fuel, energy, food, and medicine.


Armenia had previously appealed to the UN International Court of Justice in May, urging a revision of the February 22 decision concerning the Lachin Corridor blockade. The new lawsuit called for the inclusion of checkpoint-related issues in the decision.


As the trial continues and legal proceedings unfold, international attention remains focused on the treatment of the kidnapped Armenian soldiers and the broader implications for human rights and the ongoing tensions in the region.


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