BAKU — A military court in Baku has sentenced Karabakh Armenian 68-year-old Vagif Khachatryan to 15 years in prison on Tuesday three months after he was arrested by Azerbaijani security services during his aborted medical evacuation to Armenia.

Khachatryan was among Karabakh patients escorted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Armenian hospitals for urgent treatment. He was detained at an Azerbaijani checkpoint in the Lachin corridor and then charged with killing and deporting Karabakh’s ethnic Azerbaijani residents at the start of the first Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

Azerbaijani authorities specifically implicated Khachatryan in the alleged killings of 25 Azerbaijanis from the Karabakh village of Meshali captured by Karabakh Armenian forces in December 1991. He lived in another village close to Meshali during and after the 1991-199 war.

Khachatryan  repeatedly denied the accusations during his trial that began on October 13. He said, in particular, that he was held in an Azerbaijani prison during the capture of the village.

“I’m an innocent person,” Khachatryan said in his concluding remarks made shortly after the announcement of the verdict in the case. The verdict mirrored punishment demanded by an Azerbaijani prosecutor.

Khachatryan refused to be represented by an Azerbaijani government-appointed lawyer at the start of the trial. He defended himself during the subsequent court hearings.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned Khachatryan’s  sham trial  last month. It insisted that Khachatryan was arrested and prosecuted “in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

“Armenian POWs and civilians still held hostage in Baku should be released,” said a ministry spokeswoman.

“Vagif Khachatryan, abducted by Azerbaijani forces in the Lachin Corridor, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Baku, without observing the international legal standards and guarantees related to human rights. International human rights organizations should respond immediately,” Human Rights Defender Anahit Manasyan said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

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