YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Nineteen-year-old Azeri POW Farajev Ragil was released by Armenian President Robert Kocharian December 15. The same morning he was repatriated to Baku accompanied by the personal representative of the OSCE chairman in Office–Adrey Kasprchik. The International Red Cross rendered its technical assistance.
The Azeri soldier was taken prisoner while trespassing the border near the village of Khach of the Vaiots Dzor region on September 14–1998.
Farajev was kept at a pre-trial detention prison at the Ministry of National Security along with eight other Azeri POWs. The Armenian side considered it necessary that Farajev be released first–due to the prisoner’s lung problems.
In an interview he gave before going to Baku Farajev said he had no complaints of the POWs’ conditions. He was treated properly–and no pressure was exerted on him or on the other POWs. He was informed of his release on December 14. Farajev’s parents–brother and sister are waiting for him at his house in the village of Vanand of the Ordubar region in Nahijevan. He also said that the other eight POWs also hope to be released.
Despite official statemen’s by Azeri President Heydar Aliyev that the last Armenian POWs were released–the Armenian Ministry of National Security has information that 4-5 Armenian POWs are still being kept in Azerbaijan. In fact–some information suggests places of confinement–from the pre-trial detention prison of the Ministry of National Security of Azerbaijan to guard-houses at various military units.
Kasprchik said that the OSCE intends to resolve the POW problem and is making every effort to persuade all parties into taking this path.