The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan announced on 21st November, that it has initiated an investigation of videos showing torture of captured Armenian servicemen by Azerbaijani personnel, as well as videos showing desecration of the corpses of Armenian servicemen.
The announcement follows the circulation of multiple graphic videos of the acts in question on social media and Telegram over the weekend, including the beheading of a captive Armenian soldier. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Military Prosecutor’s Office state that they have “analyzed” the videos, claiming that there were “many” fake videos, but still enough to warrant an investigation.
The Military Prosecutor’s Office has since initiated a criminal case under Articles 115.2 (torture, cruel or inhuman treatment) and 245 (violation of a tomb or corpse) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The statement continues by stating that the perpetrators will be “identified and brought to justice”, adding that the public will be provided with detailed information on the progress and outcome of the investigation. The statement concludes by noting that the acts in question will not be tolerated from civilians or servicemen alike.
In the same statement, the Prosecutor General’s Office stated that legal action will be taken against Azerbaijani civilians and servicemen who damage or destroy historical, religious or cultural sites in recaptured areas of Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that such actions were incompatible with Azeri culture, stressing the “values of tolerance and multiculturalism”. The warnings come alongside the announcement of investigations into alleged violations of the laws and customs of armed conflict by Armenian forces during the fighting, as well as damage to historical sites allegedly done by Armenians.
While the language vowing transparency sounds familiar, the Azerbaijani government had previously dismissed a video of the extra-judicial killing of two Armenian civilians as a fake “provocation”, despite verification by Bellingcat and the BBC. Only time will tell if justice will be served in the investigation of these war crimes, and prove that the talk of values is backed by real action.