BUDAPEST, YEREVAN—February 11 marks the 11th anniversary of the brutal murder Armenian soldier Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian, who was axed to death by Azerbaijani soldier Ramil Safarov while both were attending a NATO Partnership for Peace training event
The Armenian community of Hungary announced plans to install a memorial plaque on the building where Markarian was killed 11 years ago, deputy chairman of the Armenian organization of Hungary Nikoghos Hakobyan told NEWS.am.
There is a khachkar in Budapest, where Armenians and representatives of Hungarian NGOs honor Markarian’s memory every year by laying wreaths and flowers.
The organization has already petitioned Hungary’s Defense Ministry with a request to install a memorial plaque on the building where Markarian was murdered. The group says it is expecting the formal reply from the Ministry.
Lieutenant of the Armenian Armed Forces Gurgen Markarian, 26, was axed to death, while asleep, by a fellow Azerbaijani participant, lieutenant Ramil Safarov, in Budapest during a three-month English language course within the framework of a NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace program.
On April 13, 2006, Budapest District Court sentenced Safarov to life in prison for murdering Markarian. On February 22, 2007, Budapest Court rejected Azerbaijani military officer’s appeal against the verdict, precluding possibility of pardon for the initial 30 years.
By a decree of then President of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, officer Markarian was awarded with a posthumous Medal for Courage on February 19, 2005.
In 2012, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan and pardoned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Official Yerevan reacted by suspending diplomatic ties with Hungary. Hungary, however, stated that it had sent Safarov back to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani Justice Ministry that Safarov’s sentence, which included the possibility of parole after 25 years, would be enforced.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban first stated that he transferred the prisoner to Azerbaijan on the understanding that he would serve out the rest of his life sentence in his home country. In later statements, Orban admitted that he not only signed the extradition agreement himself, but that he had repeatedly been warned that if Safarov were extradited to Azerbaijan, he would be pardoned and even celebrated by Ilham Aliyev’s dictatorial regime. According to some reports, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan in exchange for Azeri purchase of Hungarian securities worth Euro 2-3 billion, an information official Budapest denies.
“Hungarian prime minister is “morally bankrupt” and should resign after admitting that he personally approved the transfer of the Azeri axe murderer while knowing the likely consequences,” the leader of the opposition Socialists said.
Attila Mesterhazy said it was clear from Orban’s comments that he had been aware that Azerbaijan would release the life-sentenced Ramil Safarov after his repatriation.