By Sara Rajabova
Release of the two Azerbaijanis captivated by the Armenian military in Azerbaijan's occupied territories two years ago remains topical in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks.
The release of the Azerbaijanis was one of the major issues of discussion at the last meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Bern. President Ilham Aliyev raised the issue of immediate release of Asgarov and Guliyev from the Armenian captivity.
Yerevan ignores calls to release Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, who were captured by Armenian special forces in Shaplar village in July 2014, while they were visiting the graves of their relatives.
Armenia holds under control 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, changing the area into a polygon of arms, drug trafficking and contraband.
Baku has repeatedly stated that Armenia should put an end to the provocative actions accompanied by serious violations of international humanitarian law and immediately release hostages.
Professor Elkhan Alasgarov, the head of the expert council of "Baku Network", told Trend that a good chance emerged for return of the Azerbaijani hostages, who were captured by the Armenian side in Azerbaijan’s occupied Kalbajar region.
“The Azerbaijani government takes necessary steps for return of Asgarov and Guliyev," Azerbaijani expert stressed. "The State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing People works in this regard.”
Alasgarov believes the work should be divided into two parts: efforts made by the government for the release of these individuals and the second, the steps taken by their family members and relatives. “From legal point of view, the second step should be taken without delay. The family members should appeal to the court for protecting their rights.”
He went on to say that this issue should be considered within the legal framework. “The incident occurred in the territory of Azerbaijan and they were taken hostage in Azerbaijan. Their family members should appeal to the court of the region where the Azerbaijanis were taken hostage. This important step will support the work of the government for the release of our compatriots.”
Asgarov and Guliyev were subjected to physical, mental and psychological tortures, which is in gross violation of international legal norms. Following an expedited “judicial process" in December 2014, Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years.
The Armenian special forces killed another Azerbaijani citizen Hasan Hasanov in the same incident. Unwilling to return Hasanov’s dead body, the Armenians said they buried him in Khankendi. However, after Azerbaijan’s persistent negotiations, the remains of Hasanov’s corps were handed over to Azerbaijan in October 2014.
One of the hostages, Asgarov, is a Russian citizen, and earlier Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Armenia to immediately release the hostages
The Armenian side ignoring all calls and violating the international rules and norms was subjecting the Azerbaijanis under the Armenian captivity to various tortures.
Alasgarov stressed that the violated rights of hostages should be protected at the international level.
The two parties to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have undertaken obligations to provide information about the fate of the hostages and missing people, are committed to return dead bodies.
Yerevan avoids providing information about the missing persons, mass graves and the people who can give testimony in connection with captives and hostages taken during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.