By Vugar Khalilov
A court in Baku today sentenced 13 members of an Armenian armed group to six years in prison each on charges of border violation and illegal armed possession.
The members of the group had illegally crossed the Azerbaijani border back in December 2020 and were detained in an operation carried out by the State Security Service.
The group members initially faced charges that include committing acts of terrorism, sabotage and other criminal acts against Azerbaijani civilians and servicemen.
During the trial today, the prosecutor asked to drop terrorism-related charges against the suspects and to sentence them to seven years in prison and to deport from Azerbaijan after serving their sentences.
Namely, the prosecutor asked that the charges under Criminal Code Articles 214.2.1, 214.2.3 (terrorism committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy, an organized group or a criminal association (criminal organization) with the use of firearms and objects used as weapons), 279.2 (armed attacks on enterprises, offices, organizations or individuals as part of armed formations or groups not provided by law) be dropped from the indictment.
He requested that the defendants be sentenced under the Criminal Code Articles 228.3 (illegal acquisition, transfer, storage, transportation and carrying of weapons, their components, ammunition, explosives and devices by an organized group) and 318.2 (illegal crossing of the state border of the Republic of Azerbaijan by a group of persons by prior conspiracy or an organized group) of Azerbaijan Republic.
The convicts are Karapetyan Rafik Robertovich, Golayan Gurgen Hovannesovich, Tadevosyan Hrayr Seryojevich, Maloyan Vaqarsak Merojanovich, Yergiazaryan Sasun Seyranovich, Vardanyan Arsene Araikovich, Bahrekyan Vahagen Edikocivh, Sogomanyan Setrak Samvelovich, Dilanyan Arman Vazgenovich, Martoyan Manuk Xovanesovich, Anbardanyan Vels Karapetovich, Mikaelyan Andranik Vazgenovich Grigoryan Felix Arshakovich.
The criminal case against the group was initiated by the Main Investigation Department of the State Security Service (SSS) that detained and disarmed the group members as a result of the anti-terror operation on December 13.
Baku has said that members of the Armenian armed group do not fall under the category of POWs as they illegally crossed the border after the signing of the November 10 peace deal that ended the war between the two countries.
Earlier, Azerbaijan handed over more than 70 prisoners of war to Armenia, and Armenia returned 14 prisoners of war to Azerbaijan.
Baku does not consider as POWs 62 Armenians from Armenia's Shirak region, who were deployed on Azerbaijani territories in Karabakh on November 26 in breach of the Karabakh peace deal. They are accused of killing four Azerbaijani servicemen and injuring one civilian.
It should be noted that on June 12, Azerbaijan handed over 15 Armenian prisoners in exchange for a map detailing the location of landmines in formerly-occupied Agdam.
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