The homecoming of Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov is a bold step by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who demonstrates that he as the head of state and commander-in-chief stands behind every citizen of Azerbaijan, every soldier and officer, Head of the Department on Work with Law-Enforcement Agencies of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Fuad Alasgarov told Azerbaijani media on Friday.
"As you know, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is always keen to ensure the rights and interests of citizens of Azerbaijan, regardless of where they are in the world. One of such citizens is Ramil Safarov. In 2006, Safarov was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Budapest capital court for the murder of Gurgen Margaryan, who insulted flag and the people of Azerbaijan, when he was at the NATO training courses in Hungary 2004. The verdict read that he would be eligible for parole only after 30 years of imprisonment.
Safarov was delivered to Baku today at 13:40 by special flight of Azerbaijan Airlines and was pardoned by the order of the President of Azerbaijan today," the representative of the Presidential Administration said.
Alasgarov said the return of Ramil Safarov was done on the basis of the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Azerbaijan acceded to this Convention in 2000.
"The convention reflects the conditions of extradition of the convicted person to serve the sentence in another country, fixes effects of this legal action for the country that gave the verdict, and for the country, which the person is transferred to, the provisions governing the rules of relevant applications and answers to them. According to the Convention, contacts were established with the relevant authorities of Hungary and intensive negotiations on the extradition of Ramil Safarov were held. The outcome of long preparatory work was an official request, reflecting the terms of the extradition to Azerbaijan of Safarov, sent by the Ministry of Justice of Azerbaijan to the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice of Hungary. Immediately after receiving a positive response from Hungary the process of solving technical issues on return of the officer to Baku started," the head of the department said.
He said there were some problems in the process of Safarov's return, because from the very beginning, the issue was politicized.
"The Armenian lobby seriously impeded his extradition to Azerbaijan. I would like to point out that all this time the question of extradition of Ramil Safarov to the country was constantly under the personal supervision of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. In this regard, the head of state held high-level talks, by his order all the necessary measures to address this issue were carried out," Alasgarov said.
He stressed that in the end Ramil Safarov's return to his homeland became possible only thanks to the political will and personal authority in the international arena of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who has always demonstrated principle stand in protecting the rights and interests of the citizens of Azerbaijan.
Alasgarov, refraining from expressing an opinion on the fairness of the trial of another country, noted that Ramil Safarov during court proceedings has repeatedly talked about the context of the event.
"Ramil Safarov, a native of the Jabrail region occupied by the Armenians, is an IDP. He lost a lot of close friends, and these tragedies took place before his eyes, ran into his childhood memories. One can imagine the emotional state of a person who lived through all these tragedies as a child, as a result of permanent provocations against him by the Armenian officers, insults to the flag and the people of Azerbaijan at NATO exercises in which he participated as an officer of the Azerbaijani army," the representative of the Presidential Administration said.
Alasgarov noted that Safarov's lawyers during the trial repeatedly petitioned for violation of his right to defense. Thus, in the course of the investigation, his testimony was taken in Russian, which he knew not well, during the preliminary hearing the officer was not provided with a lawyer, and the indictment was presented in the Turkish language. The lawyers filed complaints and petitions regarding other serious procedural violations as well.
Alasgarov said under the provisions of the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, any country that is a party to the agreement may apply amnesty or reduce sentences, in accordance with its constitution or other legislation pardon extradited person.
"Ramil Safarov has served more than eight years of his sentence. According to Article 109.22 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan his pardon is an exclusive right of the President, and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, showing great humanism, used these powers. This bold step of the head of state demonstrates that he as the President of Azerbaijan and the Supreme Commander stands behind every citizen of Azerbaijan, every soldier and officer. This is also a call for Azerbaijani people's unity against the enemy," Alasgarov said.