By Emil Danielyan
The body of an Armenian military officer brutally murdered in Hungary last week was flown to Yerevan on Thursday and will be laid to rest this Saturday.
The closed coffin of Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian was draped in the red-blue-orange Armenian national flag and carried away by fellow officers in a somber official ceremony at the Zvartnots airport. It was attended by senior Defense Ministry officials and relatives of dead man.
Markarian will be buried in Yerevan’s Yerablur cemetery in a state funeral.
The 26-year-old was hacked to death in his sleep by an Azerbaijani serviceman who reportedly used an axe and a knife. Both officers were attending an English-language course in Budapest as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
The Azerbaijani suspect, Ramil Safarov, is under arrest pending the investigation and will be tried by a Hungarian court.
Motives for the crime are still not known. The Armenian government has said it was “the logical consequence of the anti-Armenian hysteria that has been left unreined by the Azeri authorities over the years.”
The Azerbaijani side rejects the charges. In a statement on February the Foreign Ministry in Baku claimed that Safarov was provoked into committing the gruesome crime by his victim who “repeatedly made insulting statements to Safarov, impugning his honor as an officer and Azeri citizen and insulting the memory of the victims of Armenian aggression.”
The statement was denounced as “offensive” on Thursday by Armenia’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Jivan Tabibian. He accused Baku of seeking to justify the killing.
“Nowhere in the police reports, or the statements of the witnesses and fellow students of the course, there is any reference to any supposed hostile exchange or an altercation between murderer and victim,” Tabibian told the OSCE’s Permanent Council in Vienna. “We find it discouraging that the perpetrator of a cowardly act is right before our eyes being transformed into a hero, entrusted with defending memory and righting wrongs in this reprehensible manner.”