Four Armenian soldiers who were taken prisoner by Azerbaijani forces
last fall and released on Friday will be prosecuted in connection with
their mysterious captivity, Armenia’s chief military prosecutor Gagik
Jahangirian told RFE/RL on Tuesday.
The four servicemen were captured in two separate incidents and are
now kept under arrest at a military hospital in Yerevan where they are
undergoing medical examination.
Three of them, identified as Yeghia Hunanian, Gevorg Khlghatian and
Aristakes Martirosian, were captured by Azerbaijani troops east of
Nagorno-Karabakh on November 26. Jahangirian said they willingly
crossed the heavily militaries frontline and “came into contact with
the enemy.” That constituted a serious violation of the Armenian
military’s rules for combat duty, he added.
The commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army,
Lieutenant-General Seyran Ohanian, likewise told reporters last week
that the three soldiers illegally “communicated with Azerbaijanis”
before being taken prisoner. Ohanian would not speculate on possible
motives for their actions.
The soldiers’ parents, meanwhile, were relieved to see their sons
repatriated with the help of the International Committee of Red Cross.
“Thank God, all the boys were brought back,” Hunanian’s mother Mariam
The fourth serviceman, Harutiun Azatian, served in a military unit
based in Vardenis, north-eastern Armenia, and ended up in captivity on
September 23 under even more mysterious circumstances. Jahangirian said
he has been charged with desertion.
Azatian, according to her mother, was drafted in 2003 despite
having suffered from epilepsy since his birth. The chronic disease
should have exempted him from compulsory military service in accordance
with Armenian law.
“I submitted all medical papers to our local military commissariat
[during the draft], but the boy underwent no examination by a
psychologist or at a military hospital,” Siranush Azatian told RFE/RL.
She said the soldier’s commanders told her shortly after his
disappearance that he sometimes behaved “in a strange manner.” She also
claimed that after finding about Azatian’s illness Jahangirian promised
to make sure that he is demobilized after the repatriation.