Karabakh Tries Two Azeris for Murder and Espionage


Two Azerbaijani citizens went on trial Monday for murder and espionage in the separatist Armenian-backed Nagorny Karabakh region, as the latest international efforts to resolve the festering conflict kicked off in Paris.

Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilhan Askerov are accused of infiltrating the disputed territory in late June as part of an Azerbaijani reconnaissance group and killing a 17-year-old Karabakh civilian and a soldier, the separatist judicial authority said in a statement.

A third member of the group, Gasan Gasanov, was killed in a shootout with Karabakh troops, the separatist authorities said.

Baku denies the claims and said that the three men are not members of its military.

The controversial trial comes as French President Francois Hollande hosts the presidents of arch-foes Armenia and Azerbaijan Monday in a fresh push by Europe to end the decades-long dispute.

Hopes for any major breakthrough are almost non-existent after a dramatic surge in violence across the countries' border and along the Karabakh frontline this summer saw more than 20 troops die in the deadliest clashes in years.

Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized the mountainous region, which is mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians, from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s that left some 30,000 people dead.

Despite years of internationally mediated negotiations since a 1994 ceasefire, the two sides have not yet signed a final peace deal.

Azerbaijan has threatened to take back the region by force if negotiations do not yield results.

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