Die or confess: How Azerbaijan tortured soldiers to reveal “Armenian spies”

Dozens were tortured, 25 were accused of treason and nine died of torment in 2017 as a result of inquires in the “Terter case” related to the espionage in favor of Armenia in the Azerbaijani army. BBC Russia has talked to the relatives of the victims.

The mass tortures of May and June 2017 became known to the public in 2019, when the details of the case gradually began to be revealed.

According to human rights activists, more than 100 soldiers and officers were tortured, 25 received long prison sentences and at least nine died of torment.

In  Azerbaijan it is known as the “Terter case” – called by the name of the region where soldiers were being taken for inquiries.

According to human rights activist Oktay Gyulalyev, nine people died, unable to withstand torture. Moreover, no criminal proceedings were even instituted against five of them.

The article reveals that 25 people are currently serving a prison term on charges of high treason, assaulting those senior in rank and other related articles. Their relatives talk about tortures and hold acts of protest in Baku.

Most torture victims have escaped prison. Some are happy for just surviving and being free. The court has sentenced direct executors of interrogations with torture to prison terms.

“Anyone involved in the case have been handed jail terms, no one has escaped responsibility,” a spokesperson for the Military Prosecutor’s Office told the BBC.

Local human rights activists say torture is common practice in Azerbaijan. They are now compiling the list of all political prisoners in the country since 1990, and those serving prison terms under the “Terter case” are also expected to be in the list.

Representatives of the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture have visited Azerbaijan six times since 2004. The committee concluded last year that “torture and other forms of ill-treatment by the police, other law enforcement agencies and the army … are systematic, widespread and not eradicated.”

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