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Videos appear to show more war crimes in Nagorno-Karabakh

24 November 2020
Video still. A man gives the salute of the far-right Grey Wolves organisation behind a man who appears to be an Armenian POW.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan has stated that it is investigating videos which appear to show war crimes being committed by Azerbaijani soldiers against Armenian soldiers and civilians.

The investigation comes as a large number of videos have begun to circulate online appearing to show Azerbaijani soldiers taunting, torturing, and executing captured men, as well as mutilating and otherwise degrading human remains.

In a statement published on 21 November, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan said they had opened an investigation into war crimes by Armenian forces, adding that ‘at the same time’, footage had emerged online of ‘Azerbaijani servicemen insulting the bodies of Armenian servicemen killed during the fighting as well as inhumane treatment of captured Armenian servicemen.’

The Prosecutor’s Office said they had ‘analysed and studied’ the videos along with the Military Prosecutor's Office and determined that many of the videos were fake. They added that they also had ‘serious doubts’ that the events shown in the videos were real.

However, if they conclude the videos are real then ‘the perpetrators of such illegal acts will be identified and brought to justice, and the public will be provided with detailed information on the progress and results of the investigation’.

In relation to one particular video, which appears to show the beheading of a man the Prosecutor General’s office told BBC News that a criminal case has been launched.

For the moment, OC Media has been unable to independently verify the footage.

Previous war crimes allegations

The most recent are not the first allegations of war crimes committed by soldiers during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. In addition to the documentation of cluster munitions being used against populated areas by both Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, a video released during the war appeared to show the execution of two Armenian prisoners-of-war by Azerbaijani forces.

The international investigative outlet Bellingcat investigated the videos, tracing them to Azerbaijani Telegram channels and concluding that they were likely genuine.  They also geolocated the videos to a square in the city of Hadrut which was captured by Azerbaijani forces in the course of the war.

[Read more: Evidence mounts of war crimes in Nagorno-Karabakh]

Azerbaijani officials have claimed that the video of the two POWs being executed was fake. The Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan has launched an investigation into the incident, but said that ‘according to initial indications, there are reasonable doubts that these videos are fake.’

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