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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Hungary jails Azerbaijani killer
Ramil Safarov looks at his watch as sentence is pronounced
Safarov was also convicted of trying to kill a second Armenian
An Azerbaijani army officer has been jailed for life for murdering an Armenian while the two were taking a Nato course in English in Hungary.

Lt Ramil Safarov confessed to hacking Lt Gurgen Markarian to death with an axe in February 2004 in a dormitory used by Partnership for Peace trainees.

The Budapest court sentenced Safarov to life in prison, with a 30-year minimum term before any parole hearings.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been bitter rivals since a war in the 1980s-90s.

Verdict welcomed

Safarov, 29, showed little emotion as Judge Andras Vaskuti read out the sentence.

He had claimed that he had been driven to his act by the plight of fellow Azerbaijanis, including close family relatives, in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

He also said he had been provoked by what he called the insulting behaviour of Lt Markarian towards the Azerbaijani flag.

But the judge ruled that the murder was pre-meditated and had been carried out with extreme cruelty.

Had his fellow officers not restrained him, the judge added, Safarov would have killed a second Armenian officer as well.

A lawyer representing the victim's family welcomed the sentence as a "good decision for the Hungarian court and for [Armenian] society".

Safarov's lawyer said he planned to appeal against the verdict.

Fear and loathing in the Caucasus
15 Nov 01 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Country profile: Azerbaijan
08 Mar 02 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Armenia
08 Mar 02 |  Country profiles

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