Evidence emerges of Azerbaijani executions of Armenian captives

Baku promised to prosecute if the videos are determined to be authentic. But past experience suggests the prosecutions won’t go far. Video evidence has emerged of Azerbaijani soldiers executing several Armenian soldiers who had been taken captive.

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan meet in Geneva on October 2. [mfa.am

The video was released on Telegram channels on the morning of October 2. It depicted a group of Azerbaijani soldiers shooting a group of unarmed Armenian soldiers. One of the Azerbaijanis in the video is heard shouting “Stop! Don’t shoot!” but the shooting continued.

The office of Armenia’s human rights ombudsman said it had verified the authenticity of the video and that it was filmed during a large-scale Azerbaijani attack in mid-September.

The video was the latest in a stream of evidence of atrocities committed in the recent fighting. In a video released on September 16, the body of a dead female Armenian service member was stripped and mutilated. Armenian officials said she also had been killed during the mid-September fighting. Other evidence of extrajudicial killings also has emerged: days after Azerbaijani sources released video of their soldiers giving first aid to a captured Armenian soldier, that soldier’s body was handed over to the Armenian side.

Azerbaijan’s general prosecutor announced that it had started a “comprehensive investigation” into the video of the executions to determine whether it was genuine, and if so who were the perpetrators: “As a result of the investigation, legal measures will be taken.”

Given Azerbaijan’s record on prosecuting war crimes, the prospects for such legal measures seem dim. When a series of videos depicting torture of Armenian soldiers emerged shortly after the 2020 war between the two sides, Azerbaijani prosecutors also promised to act, and arrested some suspects. Those prosecutions appear to have foundered, however, and there have not been any convictions. At least one of the soldiers arrested in 2020 was in 2022 awarded a medal “for service to the fatherland.” Armenia has yet to launch any prosecutions for war crimes on its side.