Lieutenant of the Armenian Armed Forces Gurgen Margaryan, 26, was hacked to death, while asleep, by a fellow Azerbaijani participant, lieutenant Ramil Safarov, in Budapest during a three-month English language course in the framework of NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace program.
On April 13, 2006, Budapest District Court sentenced Safarov to life in prison for murdering Margaryan. On February 22, 2007, Budapest Court rejected the Azerbaijani military officer's appeal against the verdict, precluding possibility of pardon for the initial 30 years.
By a decree of then-President of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, officer Margaryan was awarded with a posthumous Medal for Courage on February 19, 2005.
In 2012, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan and pardoned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Official Yerevan reacted by suspending diplomatic ties with Hungary. Hungary, however, stated that it had sent Safarov back to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani Justice Ministry that Safarov's sentence, which included the possibility of parole after 25 years, would be enforced.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban first stated that he transferred the prisoner to Azerbaijan on the understanding that he would serve out the rest of his life sentence in his home country. In later statements, Orban admitted that he not only signed the extradition agreement himself, but that he had repeatedly been warned that if Safarov were extradited to oil-rich Azerbaijian, he would be pardoned and even celebrated by Ilham Aliyev's brutal dictatorial regime. According to some reports, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan in exchange for Azeri purchase of Hungarian securities worth Euro 2-3 billion, an information official Budapest denies.
“Hungarian prime minister is “morally bankrupt” and should resign after admitting that he personally approved the transfer of the Azeri axe murderer while knowing the likely consequences,” the leader of the opposition Socialists said.
Attila Mesterhazy said it was clear from Orban’s comments that he had been aware that Azerbaijan would release the life-sentenced Ramil Safarov after his repatriation.
“Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan’s assassin Ramil Safarov fulfilled Azerbaijan’s state order,” lawyer Nazeli Vardanyan said.
“I am of the same opinion as I was eight years ago. It was a state order,” she said.
According to her, Azeri authorities from the very beginning were actively involved in the lawsuit, trying hard to mitigate Safarov’s sentence.
“Azerbaijan even established an embassy in Budapest, with representatives of Azeri and Turkish embassies present at court hearings,” Ms. Vardanyan said, adding that Safarov was later announced a national hero in Azerbaijan.
In this context, she quoted Azerbaijan’s Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev as saying, “Safarov must set an example for the young generation” and “Armenians must be killed in Nagorno Karabakh.”