By Vafa Ismayilova
A group of former Azerbaijani POWs, who suffered severe torture in the Armenian captivity during the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s, have unveiled new details about the extreme physical pain inflicted on them, Trend reported on June 16.
They made the remarks during the ongoing trial of Armenian war criminals Ludvik (Ludwig) Mkrtichyan and Alyosha Khosrovyan, who have been arrested on charges of torturing Azerbaijani captives during the first Karabakh war.
Former Azerbaijani captive Zaur Rzayev said that Mkrtichyan tortured captives with a red-hot ramrod from a machine gun in the Shusha prison.
The former POW said that he had been severely wounded in Aghdam, after which he was taken hostage.
"They brought me to the prison. There I was wounded in the shoulder. Mkrtichyan burned my wound with a burning cigarette. When I drank water, they beat me with rebar and a shovel. Mkrtichyan beat my wound with a shovel," he testified.
He stressed that 30 to 40 Azerbaijani captives, who were forced to build a pig farm and a poultry farm, were tortured and insulted in the Azerbaijani language by Mkrtichyan.
“Mkrtychyan beat the Azerbaijani captives with the butt of a machine gun and an iron bar,” Rzayev said.
He added that the captives were starved to death and they had no power to work.
"Mkrtychyan beat me with the butt of a machine gun, demanding to work faster. We were beaten in turn. A group of five people tortured us every week. They left, new ones came. I still have scars of numerous blows on my head," he stressed.
Another captive Habib Kazimov said the Armenians forced the Azerbaijani captives to eat soil in Shusha city.
"I had a head injury and was taken hostage in 1993. I was taken to the Shusha prison. There they learned that I was from Sumgayit and began to severely torture me for the Sumgayit events. I was beaten until I lost consciousness, then I was taken to a hospital in Khankandi and returned to the Shusha prison,” he said.
Kazimov stressed that “Mkrtichyan and Khosrovyan beat me with rebar. They beat an Azerbaijani captive named Sardar to death in 1994. We were forced to chop wood. They wanted to kill me".
He said that he had been in Armenian captivity for 21 months and was tortured almost constantly.
"I was tortured in the Shusha prison. Mkrtichyan and Khosrovyan were terrorists. Mkrtichyan, knowing that I was from Sumgayit, tortured me with particular cruelty. They starved me. There was an opening ceremony of a monument to an Armenian citizen in Shusha city. During the opening ceremony, the Armenians began to beat us in the presence of children and adolescents,” Kazimov said.
He added that “they also brought 13-14-year-old Armenians, telling them to torture us. They hit me in my legs and kidneys. Mkrtichyan forced us to eat soil in Shusha".
Former POW Famil Aliyev said that the Armenians forced the captives to dig up the remains of Azerbaijanis from the graves in a cemetery in Aghdam region.
Aliyev, who was captured in 1994, stressed that the Armenians shot the already dead soldiers.
"They pulled out gold teeth from the dead. If we refused to dig the graves up, they beat us with reinforcement bars, iron rods. Mkrtichyan and Khosrovyan severely tortured us," he said.
Aliyev then recalled how he was taken to the Shusha prison.
"First I was taken to Aghdam and from there to Khankandi. In the morning I was transported to the Shusha prison, where I spent seven months. Mkrtichyan and Khosrovyan used to extinguish cigarettes on my chest," he said.
Aliyev said that one of the Armenians who severely tortured the captives in the Shusha prison was his neighbor in Baku.
"That Armenian was my neighbor for a long time in Ahmadli settlement in Baku, we lived with him in the same yard. But he also tortured Azerbaijanis in the Shusha prison. Among the captives, there were both military personnel and civilians. The Armenians tortured everyone, even women,” he said.
Aliyev said that when he was released from captivity, I weighed 57 kilograms.
"Even my parents didn't recognize me. In captivity, they beat me with rebar. An Armenian nurse came and stitched me with an ordinary sewing needle. The Armenians pulled out my nails there,” he added.
The next court hearing on the criminal case of Armenian war criminals Mkrtichyan and Khosrovyan, who tortured Azerbaijani prisoners and committed other crimes, is scheduled for June 23.
The investigation launched by the Military Prosecutor's Office into the criminal case initiated under various Criminal Code articles established war crimes, crimes against peace and humanity and against Azerbaijanis on the formerly Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani territories, committed by the Armenian armed forces and the separatist armed groups, and also the facts of hostage-taking, torture and ill-treatment of persons protected by international humanitarian law.
Mkrtichyan and Khosrovyan are charged under Azerbaijani Criminal Code Articles 113 (torture), 115.2 (violation of laws and customs of war), 279.1 (creation of armed formations or groups not provided for by law), 318.2 (illegal crossing of Azerbaijan's state border) and other articles.
The Prosecutor-General's Office earlier stated that under President Ilham Aliyev's instructions those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be identified and brought to justice regardless of the time of the crime.
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