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Hundreds protest pardon of man who killed Armenian military officer

September 7, 2012 |  9:14 am

Azerbaijan protest
Roughly 400 people protested Thursday outside the consulates of Hungary and Azerbaijan, decrying the release and pardon of an Azerbaijani soldier convicted of killing an Armenian military officer with an ax.

The murder of Gurgen Markarian occurred in 2004 at a military academy in Budapest set up by NATO.

The Azerbaijani soldier, Ramil Safarov, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

He was extradited to Azerbaijan last month after officials there pledged to uphold his sentence, but upon arriving on his native soil, he was released and pardoned. The Armenian parliament subsequently suspended ties with Hungary. Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a violent conflict over disputed border territory for more than two decades.

The demonstration Thursday was organized by a number of groups, including the Armenian Youth Federation and Unified Young Armenians, and attracted hundreds of people waving signs with slogans calling for justice on behalf of Markarian, the Glendale News-Press reported.

"Hungary has to apologize about its decision and has to require that Azerbaijan return the criminal to prison," said William Bairamian, director of the Armenian National Committee-Western region.

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-- Liana Aghajanian and Jason Wells, Times Community News

Photo: The Armenian Youth Federation and other organizations on Thursday staged a large protest in front of the Hungarian consulate in L.A.  Credit: Liana Aghajanian / Times Community News

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