Badalyan was illegally imprisoned and tortured in Azerbaijan – ECHR ruling

The European Court of Human Rights today issued a ruling in the case of Artur Badalyan v. Azerbaijan, which substantiates the illegal deprivation of liberty and torture of an Armenian citizen in an Azerbaijani prison. The ECtHR ordered Azerbaijan to pay 30.000 Euros to Badalyan as compensation for non-pecuniary damage within three months.

On May 9, 2009, Artur Badalyan and a group of friends went to pick mushrooms in the forest near the village of Navur, near the town of Berd on the border with Azerbaijan. Around 3 p. m., Artur was approached by three unknown persons who asked him for cigarettes in Armenian, and then, switching to Azeri, tied his hands and forcibly took him to Azerbaijan, where they handed him over to the authorities.

According to Artur, he knows the forest well, and is certain that he did not cross the border and that he was kidnapped on Armenian territory. His friends who went with Arthur to the forest told the police that they were all unarmed.

On May 11, 2009, the police registered Artur Badalyan as missing. A search operations were organized with the participation of the local military unit. The mushrooms collected by Arthur were found 5-6 kilometers away from the Azerbaijani border.

On July 7, 2009, a criminal case was initiated by the Tavush regional police over the disappearance of Artur Badalyan. Soon, however, the investigation was terminated due to the absence of suspects.

His family and the Armenian authorities did not know about his whereabouts until 5 November 2010, when the International Committee of the Red Cross registered him as a prisoner of war in Azerbaijan. ICRC representatives had regularly visited Artur Badalyan in prison until 17 March 2011. On that day, with the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Artur was handed over to the Armenian authorities as part of the prisoner exchange.

Badalyan was held in Azerbaijani captivity for 22 months, and was held at various military facilities.

According to Artur, he was not given enough food and was often not allowed to use the toilet, forcing him to go to the toilet in his cell. Moreover, he was subjected to severe torture and mental suffering. He was often beaten and kicked in the legs so that he lost sensitivity and could not move his limbs.

Arthur was also hit with a stun gun. In addition, the cell door was hit with metal objects, as a result of which his hearing was impaired.

Artur was not explained the reasons for his detention and was not presented his rights.

On March 18, 2011, the day after his release, Arthur was hospitalized and examined in Armenia. According to a certificate issued by the Military Medical Department of the Ministry of Defense, he was diagnosed with neurasthenia with symptoms of depression. Among other things, Badalyan was troubled by feelings of fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. He complained of fatigue, pain in his arms and legs.

On the basis of a medical examination carried out in October 2011, Artur Badalyan received a disability group due to his mental health condition and was declared incapable of work.

The Government of Azerbaijan claimed before the ECHR that Artur Badalyan had allegedly been brought as a member of the Armenian armed forces, as a subversive, and held as a prisoner of war.

The Armenian Government and Artur Badalyan emphasized that during this period there was no armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so he could not be regarded as a prisoner of war.

The European Court found that Azerbaijan had not provided a convincing explanation that the serious mental disorders detected in Artur Badalyan immediately after his release were not related to the conditions of his detention. The Court concluded that there was a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention (prohibition of torture) and Article 5 (right to liberty and security of person).

It should be noted that Artur Badalyan’s interests were represented at the ECHR by Edmond Marukyan, a member of the National Assembly, who was engaged in human rights activities during those years.