By Rashid Shirinov
Azerbaijan will send an appeal to the relevant international courts on economic disputes in connection with the illegal mining of minerals in the country's occupied lands, reads a joint statement of the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office and AzerGold CJSC on March 31.
Investigations revealed that managers of the Vallex Group, Base Metals, ACP, Lerna Metalurgiayi Institute, Teghout and other companies registered in Armenia and other countries, as well as individuals from Armenia, repeatedly illegally crossed Azerbaijan’s state border from Armenia, and together with other persons in the occupied territories, as part of an organized group, created facilities without the corresponding registration under the legislation of Azerbaijan.
As a result of this activity, they received illegal income from the extraction of large amounts of gold and other non-ferrous metals at the fields located in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan's Kalbajar (Soyudlu, Gizilbulag), Zangilan (Vezhnali) and Tartar (Demirli and other deposits) regions.
During the investigation, based on the high-definition imagery of the Azersky satellite of Azerkosmos OJSC and the geological survey data, the facts of conducting illegal mining operations at ore deposits located in Azerbaijan’s occupied territories were proved.
The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office launched a criminal case under articles 192.2.3 (illegal entrepreneurship) and 318.2 (illegal crossing of Azerbaijan’s state border) regarding these facts. The preliminary investigation was entrusted to the Investigation Department for Grave Crimes of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Moreover, by attracting experts of audit companies, it is planned to determine the extent of the damage caused by the theft of gold and other non-ferrous metals in Azerbaijan. Also, the country together with AzerGold CJSC will apply to the relevant international court on economic disputes and law enforcement agencies of the countries where the companies involved in illegal mining were registered.
All foreign nationals must keep in mind that any business, economic, research or other kind of activity in Nagorno-Karabakh and other Azerbaijani regions occupied by Armenia without the consent of Azerbaijan are illegal and the country takes necessary measures against those who are engaged in such activities.
Moreover, unauthorized visits to the occupied Azerbaijani territories are also considered illegal and individuals who pay such visits are included in the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s list of undesirable persons.
Armenia broke out a lengthy war against Azerbaijan by laying territorial claims on the country. Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.
To this day, Armenia has not implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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