Azerbaijan puts former Karabakh leader Ruben Vardanyan in pre-trial detention

Azerbaijan has agreed to allow separatists who lay down their weapons to leave for Armenia under the terms of a ceasefire deal reached last Wednesday.
Azerbaijan's border guard officers pose with the detained Ruben Vardanyan, former head of Nagorno Karabakh govt, center, in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Photo | AP)
Azerbaijan's border guard officers pose with the detained Ruben Vardanyan, former head of Nagorno Karabakh govt, center, in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Photo | AP)

BAKU: An Azerbaijani court on Thursday placed former Nagorno-Karabakh separatist leader Ruben Vardanyan in pre-trial detention, after charging him with financing terrorism and other crimes.

A Baku court ruled that Vardanyan, a businessman who headed the ethnic Armenian region from November 2022 until February this year, should be arrested and placed in pre-trial detention for four months, Azerbaijan's state security service said.

Vardanyan has also been charged with creating an illegal armed organisation, according to the charge sheet presented by the security service.

The crimes could see Vardanyan, who was born in 1968, jailed for up to 14 years.

Azerbaijan has agreed to allow separatists who lay down their weapons to leave for Armenia under the terms of a ceasefire deal reached last Wednesday.

But an Azerbaijani government source told AFP that border guards were also looking for "war crime" suspects who had to face prosecution.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday accused Azerbaijani border guards of "conducting illegal arrests" of ethnic Armenians trying to flee Nagorno-Karabakh.

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