YEREVAN (Arka.am) — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated today an exchange of prisoners between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenian citizen Zaven Karapetyan and Azerbaijani citizen Elvin Arif Oglu Hibragimov were repatriated to their respective countries, Anna Naghdalyan, a press officer for the Armenian Foreign Ministry, said in a Facebook post.
Zaven Karapetyan, a resident of the village of Berdavan, Tavush region of Armenia, strayed into the territory of Azerbaijan in July 2018 in still unknown circumstances, but in Azerbaijan he was portrayed as a saboteur and sentenced to 20 years in high-security prison. The Azerbaijani citizen Alvin Arif Oglu Hibragimov, born in 1986, crossed into Armenia on March 16.
“From the very beginning Armenian authorities said that Alvin Arif Oglu Hibragimov, who illegally crossed the state border of Armenia on March 16 of this year, will be repatriated to Azerbaijan without preconditions because of humanitarian considerations. This process was carried out in close cooperation with the ICRC, in particular, with the mission of the organization in Armenia,” Naghdalyan wrote.
Naghdalyan stressed that Hibragimov, a civilian, did not commit a serious crime; therefore such an attitude towards his case was acceptable.
“We also took note of the decision of Azerbaijan to release Zaven Karapetyan, a citizen of Armenia, who appeared on June 20, 2017 in the territory of Azerbaijan and organized his return to his homeland together with the ICRC,” Naghdalyan said.
A representative of the Yerevan ICRC mission, Zara Amatuni, said that the procedure for returning the citizens of Armenia and Azerbaijan to their homelands took place on the Ijevan section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
In November 2018, official Baku suggested a prisoners swap scheme, the so-called “all for all”, proposing that Armenian citizens Arsen Bagdasaryan, Karen Ghazaryan and Zaven Karapetyan be exchanged with Azeris Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev.
The latter two were convicted in Nagorno-Karabakh for a number of crimes, including abduction and murder of a minor on the territory of Karabakh. Armenia rejected the scheme, saying there were no Azerbaijani civilian prisoners on the Armenian side.