BAKU (RFE/RL)—Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited on Tuesday an Armenian soldier who was detained by Azerbaijani troops near Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this month.
The Azerbaijani APA news agency quoted a spokeswoman for the ICRC office in Baku, Ilaha Huseynova, as saying that they performed an “exchange of information” between the soldier, Hakob Injighulian, and his family during the meeting. No further details were reported.
According to the Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, the Red Cross officials handed Injighulian a letter from his relatives. Speaking to Armenian state television, Hovannisian expressed hope that they also conveyed to the conscript the ministry’s official pledge not to prosecute him in case of his return to Armenia.
The Azerbaijani side claims that Injighulian defected to its frontline troops on August 8 after being physically abused by one of his commanders. The Armenian military denies this, saying that he accidentally strayed into Azerbaijani-controlled territory. It has condemned Baku for parading the POW on Azerbaijani television last week.
The authorities in Yerevan pressed the ICRC to visit Injighulian in custody as soon as possible, saying that is vital for his safety. They also effectively offered last week to swap him for an Azerbaijani soldier who crossed into Armenia and was detained a year ago.
There has been no official response to the offer from Azerbaijan yet.