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While world’s leading papers like New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Herald Tribune signaled the murder that left the Armenian officer without a head, Azeri official declarations and media tried to defend their officer under the lines. The press release issued by Azeri foreign ministry conveyed condolences to the kinfolk of 26 year-old Gurgen Margarian, not refraining from noting, though, that the murdered Armenian officer was constantly insulting the dignity of Safarov (during the training period), whose relatives have been killed in Karabakh war in Jebrail region of Azerbaijan. This statement causing controversial reaction, Azeri Echo paper titled its article on the incident in the following way: “Azeri soldier suspected for killing Armenian officer. Budapest police probes”.

The second Azeri officer who was also partaking in the language courses in Budapest within the frames of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program was immediately called back to Azerbaijan on the day of the murder, while another Armenian officer in the same class is still uncertain whether to continue the course or return home, Armenian ambassador to Austria Jivan Tabibian reported yesterday.

Baku’s media having not received any comments from local authorities who still refrain from issuing any statement on the matter apart from the condolatory one, the Baku-based Zerkalo’s article devoted to the incident was entitled “Who killed the Armenian officer in Budapest?”, while Gazette 525 named its article “Armenian officer axed by Azeri soldier”.

The press secretary of the Azeri defense ministry Ramiz Melikov confirmed the killing of the Armenian officer yesterday, noting that the Armenian authorities have a bit hurried with the conclusions. “Until the ruling of the court nobody has a right to call the Azeri officer a murderer”,- Melikov has stated, saying that “it is not yet clear who killed the Armenian officer”.

Major of Budapest police force Joseph Szhigeti said that they have already questioned the Azeri military man, and that they are trying to find out how Safarov obtained a knife and an axe. The Hungarian officer that lived in the same room with the victim was also questioned. Budapest police chief Walter Fulop was quoted by Reuters and AP as saying that the Azeri officer first stabbed the Armenian in the chest several times with a knife. “We say that this murder is of extraordinary brutality, for, apart from knife wounds, the victim’s head was actually separated from the body (apparently by axe)”,- told Fulop. Hungarian authorities have earlier reported that there were no personal or other conflicts between Margarian and his murderer, who were in the same class, which was attended by soldiers having the same level of English erudition.

A source from NATO leadership told Associated Press that the English language course was organized by the Hungarian authorities, not by the Alliance, refusing to comment on the murder. Regnum agency, quoting another source in Brussels, reports that NATO leadership is currently discussing the expediency of holding the PfP Cooperative Best Effrot-2004 military exercises in Baku, slated for September. Azerbaijan had so far expressed no wish to cooperate with the Armenian side within this program. Nor has it allowed Armenian officers to arrive in Baku to partake in the preparatory conference of the PfP exercises last month.

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