Azerbaijan Launches Probes Into Videos Showing Possible Torture Of Captured Armenian Soldiers

By RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

Azerbaijan's Prosecutor-General's Office says it has launched probes into several videos showing the possible torture of captured Armenian soldiers and the desecration of the corpses of Armenian troops by Azerbaijani servicemen during recent fighting in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Prosecutor-General's Office issued a statement over the weekend saying that the decision was made after investigators studied videos circulating on the Internet.

"Those who committed the mentioned illegal acts will be identified and brought to justice," the statement said, adding that "detailed information on the progress and results of the investigations will be made public later."

The statement also called on Azerbaijani troops and citizens returning to the districts handed back to Azerbaijan as part of a Russia-brokered truce to respect and preserve historic monuments and religious buildings on those territories.

"It should be noted once again that the destruction or any form of damage to existing historical, religious, and cultural monuments in our liberated territories is unacceptable," the statement said, stressing that military personnel or civilians who commit such violations will be held responsible.

The statement also said that probes had been launched into alleged unspecified violation of laws and customs of conducting war by Armenian armed forces as well.

The Moscow-brokered cease-fire statement signed by Russian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian leaders on November 10 called for seven Azerbaijani districts around Nagorno-Karabakh to be placed under Baku's control, as well as parts of the mainly Armenian-populated region that were recaptured by Azerbaijani forces during the war.

Four of the seven occupied Azerbaijani districts were recaptured by Azerbaijani forces during the war, which broke out on September 27.

The final districts to be handed over to Azerbaijan is scheduled to occur by December 1.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but the ethnic Armenians who make up most of the region's population reject Azerbaijani rule.

They have been governing their own affairs, with support from Armenia, since Azerbaijan's troops and Azeri civilians were pushed out of the region in a war that ended in a cease-fire in 1994.

The latest round of fighting is estimated to have killed more than 2,000 soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Armenians have been leaving the territories handed back to Azerbaijan en masse since the truce was signed, burning their houses and ripping down electricity poles.