The U.S. State Department Spokesperson issued a statement expressing its deep concern on the death of the Armenian citizen Karen A. Petrosian, who was taken captive and killed in Azerbaijan. “The U.S. offers sincere condolences to Mr. Petrosian’s family. We call on the Azerbaijani government to conduct a full and transparent investigation of this incident and publish the results.
We remind the Governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia of their obligations under international humanitarian law, especially their obligation to treat humanely all those taken into custody. We call on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to all detainees and internees held for conflict-related reasons,”
The Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday that it is trying to arrange the repatriation of the body of 33 year old Petrosian, a resident of an Armenian border village, who had wandered into Azerbaijan for unknown reasons and was arrested by military authorities there. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed that Petrosian has died of “acute heart failure.”
The ICRC office in Yerevan said Red Cross officials are now trying to help the Armenian authorities repatriate Petrosian’s body. “A dialogue with the authorities on both sides is continuing but I cannot publicly comment on progress,” its spokeswoman, Zara Amatuni, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “When the parties reach an agreement the Red Cross will be able to assist the authorities in the body’s repatriation in accordance with its neutral status.”
Amatuni declined to clarify whether the two sides are discussing the possibility of exchanging the corpse with the body of an Azerbaijani man who was killed last month in a reported shootout with military personnel in the Armenian-controlled Kelbajar district west of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armen Kaprielian, the head of an Armenian government commission dealing with prisoners of war and civilian captives, implied earlier this week that the Armenian side is ready to consider such a swap. A member of the commission, Zarine Hakobian, accused Baku on Thursday of delaying the body’s repatriation in order to remove traces of violence from it.