BEIRUT: Youth members of Armenian political parties rallied Thursday at the Hungarian Embassy in Beirut to protest against the extradition from Budapest to Baku and subsequent pardoning of an Azerbaijani soldier who axed an Armenian to death.
Youths from the Tashnag, Hunchag and Ramgavar parties participated in the protest at the embassy in Sanayeh, while their parties’ officials met with the Hungarian ambassador and handed him a memo protesting against his government’s decision.
“The brutal murderer has been treated like a national hero since returning to Azerbaijian. This is a blatant violation of international justice and the rule of law in a clear case of homicide,” the memo read.
Protesters held aloft banners denouncing Hungary’s decision, which they said encourages Azerbaijani hatred of Armenians and violates international law.
On Feb. 19, 2004, Azerbaijani army Lt. Ramil Safarov used an axe to bludgeon to death Gurgen Margaryan, an officer in the Armenian army who was asleep at the Budapest military academy where both men were attending English-language courses organized by NATO.
Safarov was arrested and tried in a Hungarian court. In 2006, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Safarov served eight years of his life sentence.
On Aug. 31, 2012, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was greeted as a hero. He was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev, promoted to the rank of major and given a new apartment and money by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
In 1988, in the waning days of the Soviet Union, fighting broke out between Armenians and Azeris over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting developed into a full-fledged war following the independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1990 and 1991, respectively, and lasted until 1994. The two countries still do not have diplomatic relations with each other.