Conflicting reports surrounded the deaths of eight Azerbaijani prisoners said to have died on 29 January while trying to escape from the custody of the Armenian Ministry of Defence in Yerevan. According to autopsies performed in Azerbaijan by medical authorities there and by Professor Pounder of Dundee University, Scotland, one man died of gunshot wounds to the chest, one of incised wounds to the throat and six of gunshot wounds to the head (including three cases in which the muzzle of the gun was in contact with the head at the time the shot was fired). Professor Pounder dismissed an early claim that the six with head wounds were shot while trying to escape, saying that the pattern of their injuries instead suggested “execution-type shootings”. However, he did not absolutely exclude the possibility of mass suicide, an explanation given by the Armenian Military Procurator who said seven of the men shot themselves with one pistol in several minutes after their escape bid failed. In the case of the eighth man, Professor Pounder found the pattern of throat wounds typical of suicide. Amnesty International has expressed its concern over the circumstances of the men’s deaths and is calling on the Armenian authorities to conduct a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation with the results made public.
Excerpt from AI Index: EUR 01/02/94
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