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Spokespersons of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Stefan Fule on the release of Ramil Safarov The spokespersons of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission and Stefan Fule, European
Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, issued the following statement today:
"The High Representative and Commissioner Fule are concerned by the news that the President of Azerbaijan has pardoned Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Armenian Army officer Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest in 2004.
Ramil Safarov was transferred from Hungary to Azerbaijan on 31 August on the basis of an Azerbaijani request, in the framework of the Convention of Strasbourg on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons of 21 March 1983, to serve the rest of his sentence. EU representatives are in contact with the relevant authorities and will continue to follow the situation closely.
In the interest of regional stability and on-going efforts towards reconciliation, the High Representative and Commissioner Fule reiterate their call on Azerbaijan and Armenia to exercise restraint, on the ground as well as in public statements, in order to prevent an escalation of the situation."
Ramil Safarov was sentenced by a Hungarian court to life in jail for killing sleeping Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan with an axe in Budapest in 2004. Both the officers were undergoing an English language course under the NATO PfP program. The same day after Safarov's extradition, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev decreed to pardon the criminal.
The same day after Safarov's extradition, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev decreed to pardon the criminal and give him the rank of Major. Afterwards, NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor responded to Azerbaijan's Decision to Pardon Ramil Safarov: "Azerbaijan's decision to pardon Safarov is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation."
The Hungarian Government expressed protest to the Azerbaijani authorities against the decision to pardon Safarov. President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan officially suspended diplomatic relations wirh Hungary calling extradition of the criminal "a serious mistake."