The court violated both the norms of azerbaijani legislation as well as those of the international law in relation to the armenian prisoner of war


Vigen Euljekian

Analysis of violation of law during Vigen Euljekian’s judicial proceedings

Baku Military Court

Case №1-1(093)-94/2021

14 June 2021 

Presiding judge: Elbey Allahverdiyev

Judges: Aslan Kalbaliyev, Jamal Ramazanov

Defendant: Vigen Euljekian

Defender: Leyla Shammadova


The State Prosecutor: Mahir Abbasov, a legal advisor, and assistant with special assignments at the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Azerbaijan Republic.

In September 2020, fierce fighting broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Karabakh area and its surroundings. As a result of the 44-day war, the Azerbaijani soldiers liberated several towns and many villages in Karabakh and the adjacent territories.

According to the official verdict, the accused Vigen Euljekian, a serviceman of the Armenian Armed Forces, was born on July 12, 1979 in Beirut, Lebanon, he is a citizen of the Republic of Lebanon. He was detained on December 2, 2020. V. Euljekian was charged under the Articles 114.3 (Participation of a mercenary in a confrontation or military operations), 214.2.1 (Terrorism, committed on preliminary arrangement by group of persons, by organized group or criminal community), 214.2.3. (Terrorism, committed with application of fire-arms or subjects used as a weapon), 228.2.1 (Illegal purchase, transfer, selling, storage, transportation or carrying of fire-arms, accessories to it, supplies (except for the smooth-bore hunting weapon and ammunition to it), explosives) and 318.2 (Crossing of protected frontier of the Azerbaijan Republic, committed on preliminary arrangement by group of persons or organized group either with application of violence or with threat of its application) of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic.

On December 3, 2020, the Baku Sabayil District Court issued a restraining order against V. Euljekian in the form of detention. At present, V. Euljekian is being held in the temporary detention facility of the State Security Service of the Azerbaijan Republic.

According to the investigation, on 29 September 2020, V. Euljekian accepted an offer to participate in the military operations on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, an offer made by Hovak Kikiyan, a citizen of Lebanon, and accepted for it a payment in the amount of 2.500 USD. For this purpose, it was organized a criminal group, the members of which illegally crossed the border of the Azerbaijan. V. Euljekian also illegally acquired, stored and carried the weapons, committed terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of people, destruction of property and significant injuries to the humans. In the course of the preliminary investigation, V. Euljekian, who was interrogated as a suspect and accused, pleaded guilty to the charges.

Interrogated during the investigation and the trial, the defendant’s wife, Maralle Najaryan, testified that in November 2019, she went with her husband and two children on vacation to the Armenia Republic. However, in February 2020, due to the Covid infection spread she was forced first to send her children back to Lebanon, and then she also left in May 2020.

Despite the fact that her husband V. Euljekian also wanted to return to Lebanon, his name was not on the list of persons entitled to leave the territory of Armenia. For this reason, he was obliged to stay in Yerevan. In August 2020, Maralle Najaryan again came to Armenia together with her sister. M. Najaryan testified that she and her husband had planned to return to Lebanon together, but on 27 September 2020, she found out about the military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. In her testimony, M. Najaryan confirmed that her husband had agreed to participate in the military operations and had been paid $2,500US. She advised him not to participate but he insisted to. V. Euljekian along with some foreign citizens went to Nagorno Karabakh where they took participation in the military operations. She repeatedly contacted her spouse on phone, he sent her pictures and said that they had been issued modern military forms as well as the weapons. He also posted those photos on his Facebook account. Have called his wife once again, Euljekian said that the situation had been worsen, that most of the foreigners had been killed, and he had decided to return. M. Najaryan testified that although she had been aware of her spouse’s involvement in the military operations, and that it resulted in a large number of deaths, she had not taken any part in it.

The defendant V. Euljekian, who was questioned at the trial, hadn’t pleaded guilty to the charges at the initial stage. He explained that although he had not been tortured during the preliminary investigation, he had been captured and held in the prison, and therefore at first, he had given self-incriminating testimony and pleaded guilty to the charges.

The defendant testified that he had not actually participated in the military operations for financial award. V. Euljekian clarified that during the fighting, he had been in the Lachin corridor and approached by unknown Armenian soldiers, who had demanded his passport, saying that it had been announced general mobilization of 17-55-year-old men. The military first took him to Khankendi and then to Khojavand. Although he told the Armenian military that he was a Lebanese citizen, they took away his passport and considered him to be Armenian, his age to be suitable and handed him a machine gun. Brought to Khojavand, he together with others had been digging trenches for three days. From there he went to Shusha, surrendered his weapon and returned to Yerevan. He did not stay there for a long, his wife told him that the war had been over. V. Euljekian went with her to Shusha to pick up the rest of his belongings. On 10 November 2020, on his way to Shusha, he was stopped by the Azerbaijani military who took him and his wife in captivity.

However, in the course of the interrogation at trial, answering the questions V. Euljekian testified that he had dropped his automatic rifle on the territory of Khojavand and left the military post. The defendant also said that they had arrived in five vehicles from Armenia to Karabakh and that there had been nine people in his car who had been led by Khachik Asiyan, whom he had never met. Those people were part of an organization called “Armenian Eagles”. V. Euljekian first met Khachik Asiyan on his way to Karabakh. There was also a Facebook page called “Armenian Eagles”.

The forensic medical conclusion dated 5 February 2021, issued in relation to Vigen Euljekian stated that no bodily injuries had been found in the period from September to October 2020.

The forensic psychiatric examination from 19 January 2021, confirmed that V. Euljekian appeared to be sane.

The defendant’s defense counsel petitioned the court that her client had fallen under the term “prisoner of war” in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the charges against him were groundless, and the verdict should be acquitted.

On 14 June 2021, the Baku Military Court issued a verdict against Vigen Euljekian: the court found him guilty and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment. The first five years of imprisonment he must serve in the closed Gobustan prison, the resto has term he shall be kept in a high-security colony.


Commentary by expert lawyer:

The court verdict is unlawful and unjustified. The Article 25 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic states:

  1. All people are equal with respect to the law and law court.

III. The state guarantees equality of rights and liberties of everyone, irrespective of race, nationality, religion, language, sex, origin, financial position, occupation, political convictions, membership in political parties, trade unions and other public organizations. Rights and liberties of a person, citizen cannot be restricted due to race, nationality, religion, language, sex, origin, conviction, political and social belonging.

The equality of all individuals before the law and courts is also guaranteed by the Article 7 of the Law “On Courts and Judges”.


According to the Article 69 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic,

  1. Foreign citizens and stateless persons staying in the Azerbaijan Republic may enjoy all rights and must fulfil all obligations like citizens of the Azerbaijan Republic if not specified by legislation or international agreement in which the Azerbaijan Republic is one of the parties.

Despite the fact that there has been a conflict between the two countries, Azerbaijan and Armenia, for many years, the investigation of such criminal cases requires particular attentiveness, objectivity and respect for the principle of equality of all before the law and court. As a rule, the judges in Azerbaijan are not characterized by any of these qualities. Over the years, the judges have been handling “sensitive cases” with no objectivity and no sense of justice. This trial was no exception.

Despite the fact that constitutional provisions mandate the state to guarantee equality of rights and freedoms for all before the law and courts, in this case, these provisions were not the key point in the consideration of such an important and very sensitive case.

The court verdict in the case consists solely of the defendant’s testimony given by him in the course of the preliminary and trial investigations, as well as a listing of certain official documents issued in connection with the case by various structures. Not a single document contains the accused’s evidence of the guilt.

The crimes attributed to the defendant may have been committed. However, it is unclear whether the defendant was involved in these crimes and whether there is a connection to the charges from the verdict. The findings of reasonable suspicion must be supported by the evidence of the defendant’s involvement in the crime. As such data cannot be considered as evidence confirming the very occurrence of the crime.

The evidentiary basis of the criminal case is insufficient. All the evidence consists of the  defendant’s and his wife’s testimonies, as well as several official documents, which cannot be accepted as conclusive evidence.

As indicated above, the defendant’s spouse did not testify in favour of her spouse. According to the Article 66 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic,

Nobody may be forced to testify against him/herself, wife (husband), children, parents, brother, sister. Complete list of relations against whom testifying is not obligatory is specified by law.

The Article 20 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic states:

20.1. Nobody may be forced to testify against himself or his close relatives, or be

prosecuted on this basis.

20.2. During the investigation or court hearing, a person asked to give information which may incriminate him and his close relatives in respect of an offence shall have the right to refuse to incriminate them without fear of negative legal consequences for himself.

Exemption of a person from the obligation to testify against himself or his close relatives, i.e. granting this person testimonial immunity, is one of the most important and necessary prerequisites for real respect for human and civil rights and freedoms.  The above-mentioned constitutional right (Article 66 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic) should be ensured at any stage of criminal proceedings and assumes that a person may not only refuse to testify, but also provide other evidence confirming his guilt of committing a crime. The fact that a person has exercised this right cannot by itself justify either his conviction for the crime charged or the occurrence of any adverse consequences for him.


This right is also called the “right to silence”. Any attempt to restrict the right to silence would be a violation of a person’s constitutional rights.  According to the Article 20 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic, any coercion to testify through threats, blackmail or other illegal actions is a crime “against justice,” and the Article 66 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic is a guarantee of impermissibility of such kind of compulsion to testify against oneself or his/her relatives. In other words, any plea of guilty must be voluntary, since the guarantee provided by the Article 66 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, is aimed at preventing any form of coercion to testify against oneself, one’s spouse, or one’s relatives. The investigation bodies and the court do not have the right to demand or seek by any means not only a plea of guilty, but also the testimony accusing the spouse and close relatives, even if there are facts, according to which the persons within this circle could be recognized as accomplices in the crime.

The right to silence is guaranteed by the Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Though it is not stated in the Article itself, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case law has enshrined this right in its precedents, which is an essential element within the right to a fair trial.

The ECHR judgment in the case of John Murray vs the United Kingdom from 8 February 1996, states: “Although not specifically mentioned in Article 6 (art. 6) of the Convention, there can be no doubt that the right to remain silent under police questioning and the privilege against self-incrimination are generally recognised international standards which lie at the heart of the notion of a fair procedure under Article 6 (art. 6) … By providing the accused with protection against improper compulsion by the authorities these immunities contribute to avoiding miscarriages of justice and to securing the aims of Article 6 (art. 6).” –{“fulltext”:[“\”CASE%20OF%20JOHN%20MURRAY%20v.%20THE%20UNITED%20KINGDOM\””],”documentcollectionid2″:[“GRANDCHAMBER”,”CHAMBER”],”itemid”:[“001-57980”]}

As in other “sensitive cases,” the principle of transparency was violated in this criminal case, even though the trial was officially held in public. However, it was only on paper. The trials against the Armenian military were of great public interest in the context of the 44-day war. Yet, neither journalists (excluding those working for the pro-government press), nor representatives of the civil community were allowed into the courtroom.

The Article 27.1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic states:

While safeguarding state, professional, commercial, personal and family secrets in accordance with this Code, court hearings in criminal cases and on other prosecution material shall be held publicly in all courts of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The principle of publicity is also enshrined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 6(1).

In this regard, the European Court of Human Rights, in its judgment in the case of Werner vs. Austria from November 24, 1997, stated, “The Court recalls that the principles governing the publicity of proceedings have a value (meaning) also for the public presentation of judgments and pursue the same objective: a fair trial, the guarantee of which is one of the fundamental principles of every democratic society in the sense of this Convention.” –{“fulltext”:[“werner%20v.austria”],”documentcollectionid2″:[“GRANDCHAMBER”,”CHAMBER”],”itemid”:[“001-58114”]}

Neither the investigating body nor the court could prove the involvement of the accused in the crime. According to the Article 39.2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic, the criminal prosecution shall also be discontinued if there is no link between the person and the offence or if guilt is not proven.

According to the Article 21.2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic,

Even if there are reasonable suspicions as to the guilt of the person, this shall not cause the latter to be found guilty. The accused (the suspect) shall receive the benefit of any doubts which cannot be removed in the process of proving the charge in accordance with the provisions of this Code, within the appropriate legal proceedings. He shall likewise receive the benefit of any doubts which are not removed in the application of criminal law and criminal procedure legislation;

The presumption of innocence is also enshrined in the Article 6(2) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In this regard, the European Court of Human Rights, in its judgment in the case of Allenet de Ribemont vs. France from 10 February 1995, stated: “35.   The presumption of innocence enshrined in paragraph 2 of Article 6 is one of the elements of the fair criminal trial that is required by paragraph 1 It will be violated if a judicial decision concerning a person charged with a criminal offence reflects an opinion that he is guilty before he has been proved guilty according to law.” –

Thus, a number of constitutional rights, the norms of substantive and procedural legislation, the basic principles of criminal law, as well as the Norms of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights were violated in relation to the accused.