BAKU, Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan has initiated a Criminal Case against the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for allegedly aiding in illegal smuggling of various types of goods to Armenia as well as temperately suspended the trade passing through the “Lachin” Border Checkpoint.
The Criminal Case has been launched under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan while the “Lachin” State Border Checkpoint will remain closed till necessary investigative measures are completed.
The State Border Service told AZERTAC – the official News Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan – since the establishment of the “Lachin” Border Checkpoint on the border with the Republic of Armenia, necessary conditions have been created for the passage of ICRC vehicles across the state border, subject to appropriate border and customs clearance.
However, over the past period, employees of the State Border Service have repeatedly detected attempts to smuggle various types of goods in ICRC vehicles. In particular:
- At about 16:41 on 1 July 2023, 15 undeclared mobile telephones were discovered by border guard personnel hidden in the hand luggage of the Reno vehicle with the license plate 35-VX-480, driven by Garik Hartunyan, Armenian citizen, born on 17 June 1976 (passport: AT0573343), who was proceeding from Armenia to Azerbaijan.
- At about 15:52 on 3 July 2023, a total of 115 undeclared mobile phone screens, 10 mobile phone boards, 120 mobile phone chargers and one screen protector were discovered by border guard personnel hidden among the hand luggage in the passenger compartment of the UAZ vehicle with the license plate 768-UU-22, driven by Vrezh Grigoryan, Armenian national, born on 12 April 1977 (passport: AU040291), who was proceeding from Armenia to Azerbaijan.
- At about 16:10 on 5 July 2023, a total of 848 packets of cigarettes of 17 brands and 320 litres of petrol in a separate tank were discovered by border guard personnel in the passenger compartment of an Iveco truck with the license plate 711-FF-11, driven by Sasun Harutyunyan, Armenian citizen, born on 26 April 1981 (passport: AU0219416), who was proceeding from Armenia to Azerbaijan.
- At 16:54 on 5 July 2023, a total of 125 packs of cigarettes of five brands and 1,000 liters of gasoline in a separate tank were detected by border guard personnel in the passenger compartment of a DAF truck with registration number 37-FF-609, driven by Vakif Musaielian, Armenian national, born on 4 December 1959 (passport: AU031091), who was proceeding from Armenia to Azerbaijan.
The State Border Service maintained that although the ICRC was warned about this through official channels, the illegal actions continued and the necessary steps were not taken to prevent them.
It said that the use for smuggling purposes of vehicles belonging to the ICRC and reserved for medical evacuation is not only a gross violation of the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan but also an abuse of the trust that our Country has placed in the ICRC as a humanitarian organization.
The State Border Service also said that all facts of smuggling using ICRC vehicles have been documented on the spot by means of operational footage.