Friday, February 19, 2016, marks the 12th anniversary of the brutal killing of Armenian military officer Gurgen Margaryan.
Margaryan was murdered by Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov, in the Hungarian capital city of Budapest in 2004.
The two military servicemen were attending a NATO-sponsored English-language course in Budapest. On February 19, 2004, Safarov murdered Margaryan by decapitating him with an axe. In April 2006, Safarov was found guilty of murder by the Budapest City Court, and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with the possibility of conditional release after 30 years. The court found that Safarov had intended to kill two Armenian participants at the course on the anniversary of the beginning of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. After the Court of Appeal upheld this judgment in February 2007, Safarov began serving his sentence in a Hungarian prison.
In August 2012, the Hungarian Minister of Justice approved Safarov’s transfer to Azerbaijan with a view to his serving his sentence there. A few hours after, however, Safarov was transferred on August 31, 2012, he was granted a pardon by the Azerbaijani President and set free. He was also promoted to major, awarded eight years’ salary arrears, and offered an apartment.
In response to this development, Armenia suspended its diplomatic ties with Hungary.
Ramil Safarov’s pardoning was condemned by virtually all international organizations.