November 20
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STEPANAKERT. – The authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh have never opposed the return and exchange of citizens who appeared on the opponent’s territory by mistake, spokesperson for the Karabakh president Davit Babayan said.

His comment came in response to Armenian request to comment on the statement made by Azerbaijani official who said they “are ready to exchange captives”.

 “A normal person cannot oppose the exchange of captives. And we never said that we oppose such processes. However, it is necessary to clearly distinguish between citizens who have mistakenly appeared on the opposite side and terrorists,” Babayan said.

The Artsakh representative stressed that the demand of Azerbaijan to return Askerov and Guliyev could not “fit into the framework of humanity”.

“This is an attempt to exchange terrorists. These spies illegally entered Artsakh, committed terrorist acts and killed a young man. These individuals stood trial. The court was open, with the participation of international observers, the media, human rights activists,” Babayan emphasized.

He believes that Baku’s goals are clear: they want to return Askerov and Guliyev to make them heroes as it happened with Safarov.

“In response, both of them will become even more faithful servants of the regime and will be ready to carry out any order,” he added.

At the same time, Baku is solving another problem – they are trying to sow discord in the Armenian society itself.

“Probably, families of the captured Armenians once may say ‘well, let them exchange, release our relatives’. Although we are talking about ordinary people who have problems on the one hand, and terrorists, on the other,” he concluded.

 Azerbaijani citizens Shahbaz Guliyev (born in 1968), Dilgam Asgarov (born in 1960), and Hasan Hasanov—who was killed by the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic/NKR) armed forces while rendering these saboteurs ineffective—had illegally crossed the NKR state border on June 29, 2014, and they were armed with weapons and ammunition. The three had entered the territory of the Shahumyan Region of Karabakh, and as spies, to collect information and carry out espionage.

On July 4, 2014, they had kidnapped and subsequently murdered Karabakh citizen Smbat Tsakanyan, 17, whose body was found on July 15, 2014, and with gunshot wounds, in a forest at the Shahumyan Region.

In addition, on the evening of July 11, 2014, Hasanov had killed Armenia capital city Yerevan resident Sargis Abrahamyan (born in 1971), and severely wounded Armenia’s Dzoraghbyur village resident Karine Davtyan, on the Vardenis-Karvachar Highway. Hasanov was armed and he resisted arrest; as a result, he was neutralized by the NKR special forces. Guliyev and Asgarov, on the other hand, were detained, and they faced trial in the NKR.

Asgarov was charged with espionage; unauthorized border trespass; kidnapping and violence against a minor, committed by an organized group; murder committed by an organized group motivated by ethnic hatred; and attempt of murder of two persons, committed by an organized group, motivated by ethnic hatred.

Guliyev was charged with espionage; unauthorized border trespass; kidnapping and violence against a minor, committed by an organized group; and murder committed by an organized group motivated by ethnic hatred.

And on December 29, 2014, the First Instance General Jurisdiction Court of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic sentenced Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev to life and 22 years, respectively, in prison.

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