Multiple April War Atrocity Cases Pending at European Court

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Azerbaijani personnel walk towards Armenians positions near Seysulan to pick up bodies of personnel killed in April 2016. Image grab from video by Arshak Zakaryan.

Two years after the April War, multiple complaints filed on behalf of families of military personnel in Armenia and Azerbaijan and alleging violations of European human rights statutes are pending at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). A separate case deals with execution of three Armenian civilians.

First of the cases was filed on April 9, 2016, and judging by initials of persons involved it concerns the Armenian army Pvt. Kyaram Sloyan. Sloyan was killed in action early on April 2, defending post 116 near the ruins of Seysulan, 4 kilometers from the town of Mardakert. During the few hours his body was left in the hands of Azerbaijani servicemen, Sloyan’s head was severed and taken from the post before Armenian forces counterattacked and retook the position. The head was not returned until days later as part of an exchange of remains of servicemen left on both sides.

Two more complaints were filed on April 13 and 15 and appear to concern Maj. Hayk Toroyan and driver Hrant Gharibyan killed near mid-day April 2 when their truck was ambushed outside the northern Karabakh village of Talish. Their heads were also severed and, according to the Artsakh Ombudsman’s inquiry, never recovered.

On April 19, the Azerbaijani side filed two complaints claiming “mutilation or abuse of their relative’s body and the failure of the Armenian authorities to return the cut-off body parts and the resultant inability to bury the body in a proper manner in accordance with Muslim tradition.”

The exact nature of mutilations alleged is not specified and no specific allegations have been made public by Azerbaijani officials or media. Initials of individuals involved in the lawsuits suggest they involve Lt. Col. Murad Mirzeyev and ensign Penceli Teymurov. Mirzeyev was the Turkish and U.S.-educated commander of the 52nd Special Forces brigade of Azerbaijani defense ministry. Mirzeyev and Teymurov’s bodies were among half a dozen others left at the Defense Army post 170, recaptured by Armenian forces in early morning of April 3.

On May 14-15 a further 16 complaints were filed on behalf of families of Armenian servicemen, whose bodies also carried signs of mutilations, and on May 25, three more cases were added by Azerbaijani lawyers. Finally, on September 19, 2016 two more cases were filed by the Armenian side.

Also on September 19, a separate complaint was filed on behalf of the Khalapyan family, whose three elderly members were killed by the Azerbaijani forces commanded by Mirzeyev in Talish on April 2.

All these cases were communicated to ECHR in November 2016.

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