Politics 14:00 19/02/2024 Armenia

20 years have passed since Gurgen Margaryan's brutal murder by Azeri officer

Armenian army officer Gurgen Margaryan was brutally murdered in Hungary on this day 20 years ago.

On 19 February 2004, 26-year-old Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan was hacked to death while asleep by Ramil Safarov, a lieutenant of the Azerbaijani army. Both were participants of an English language training course within the framework of the NATO-sponsored “Partnership for Peace” program held in Budapest, Hungary.

This is how Gurgen's Hungarian roommate, Kuti Balash, remembers the evening before the murder: “Gurgen and I were sharing a room at the dormitory. The evening before the murder I was watching a football match between Armenia and Hungary, while Gurgen was sitting at the desk preparing his homework. He just came back from the gym.” Staying with them on the same floor were participants of different nationalities, including Ramil Safarov and another Azerbaijani officer. Balash mentions that there were no conflicts among any members of the group. The subject of international conflicts was discussed only once, during the first day of getting acquainted, but nobody spoke of it afterwards.

On the evening of February 18, Balash had tea and went to bed, as he had fever, while Gurgen Margaryan kept on studying. Around 9:30 p.m. Margaryan went to visit another program participant from Armenia, Hayk Makuchyan, who was staying in another room.

Balash does not remember when Gurgen came back, but early in the morning he felt that someone turned on the light. He thought it was Gurgen returning to the room, but after hearing some muffled sounds, he turned his head away from the wall and saw the Azerbaijani officer standing by Gurgen’s bed, with a long axe in his hands.

“By that time I understood that something terrible had happened for there was blood all around. I started to shout at the Azerbaijani urging him to stop it. He said that had no problems with me and would not touch me, stabbed Gurgen a couple of more times and left. The expression of his face was as if he was glad he had finished something important. Greatly shocked, I ran out of the room to find help, and Ramil went in another direction.”

What happened next testifies that the murder had been planned in advance. It was not a crime of a personal motivations between Gurgen and Ramil. Immediately after murdering Lieutenant Margaryan, Ramil Safarov went to the room of the second Armenian officer, to finish with him as well.

That morning, after committing his first murder, Ramil went to Makuchyan's room with an intention to kill him. In the corridor, meeting a classmate from Uzbekistan who came out of the room after hearing suspicious noise, Ramil offered him to come and assist him in killing the second Armenian. The Uzbek tried to calm the murderer down but did not manage to stop him.

Afterwards everyone confessed that they were frightened to approach Ramil with a blood-stained axe closer than at three meters. Approaching Makuchyan’s room, Ramil tried to open it by shaking its handle. As Makuchyan confessed, he usually had a habit of locking doors, unlike Gurgen, but that night he forgot to do it, and the door was locked by his Lithuanian roommate.

Being unable to open the door, Ramil started to shout out Makuchyan's name in a threatening voice. Half asleep, Hayk went towards the door to open it, but his Lithuanian roommate managed to save him for the second time. He stopped Hayk from opening the door, as he thought that there was a real threat in Safarov's voice and that he might be armed. To make sure, he phoned to another Lithuanian who lived at the same corridor asking him to check whether Safarov was armed and what was going on at all. Meanwhile, Safarov went to look for Hayk in the room of the Serbian and the Ukrainian roommates, showing them the blood-stained axe and stating that he thirsted for nobody's blood but Armenian. Hayk Makuchyan was told afterwards, that Ramil ran to the room of another Azerbaijani officer, told him something in Azerbaijani, and then ran and stabbed the door of Makuchyan’s room three times with an axe. By that time the second Lithuanian and the police approached.

Safarov was sentenced to life in prison in Hungary for the brutal murder. In August 2012, he was extradited to Azerbaijan to allegedly serve out his sentence. Safarov was given a hero's welcome in the country and was pardoned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Source Panorama.am
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