- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
March 5, 2004

Margaryan Killing: Second Armenian officer recounts a night of horror in Budapest

The Armenian officer who was with Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest has described the night that ended with his friend's murder.
Hayk Makuchyan.

Captain Hayk Makuchyan returned to Yerevan on the aircraft that brought back the slain Armenian lieutenant. He and 26-year-old Margaryan had been attending an English language course in Hungary under NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

“Mentally and psychologically, I couldn't stay there any more as everything was reminding me of Gurgen. We were sitting next to each other in the classroom and many things were binding us together. We were always together,” Makuchyan says.

“The kettle was in my room. He used to visit me and we were dining together. All the time I was thinking he would enter the room.”

Makuchyan, 29, recounted how Margaryan was butchered with an axe and how he himself was only saved from attack by the quick thinking of his Lithuanian room-mate. An Azerbaijani officer, Lieutenant Ramil Safarov, is in custody accused of murder.

“I saw only the part of the story I'm about to tell you now. Boys from neighboring rooms and Gurgen's roommate, a Hungarian officer, told me the rest,” he says.

Makuchyan says the accused entered his fellow Armenian's room at 5am and switched on the light. Balash, Margaryan's roommate, was lying with his face towards a wall and thought initially that his colleague had gotten up.

But then he heard strange sounds and sprang from his bed to witness a horrifying scene.

Makuchyan says: “He had already hacked him with an axe. Balash shouted out, 'what are you doing?' And in reply he heard, 'stay in bed and I won't hurt you'.”

The Hungarian hurried to a guard to call the police. Meanwhile, the Azeri officer was looking for Makuchyan.

Finding the door to his room locked, Safarov allegedly began shouting: “Armenian, open the door, we will slaughter all of you.”

Makuchyan recalls: “I was half asleep when I heard someone calling me. I got up and went to open the door but my roommate from Lithuania didn't allow me to open it and warned me that the Azeri could be armed as he noticed a threat in his voice.”

His room-mate called a fellow Lithuanian in another room on his cellphone to ask him to check whether Safarov was armed.

“Meanwhile, the Azeri was still looking for me. He entered the room where a Serb and Ukrainian were staying. He showed them his bloody axe and said 'I want the life of the second Armenian, where is he?” says Makuchyan.

Safarov returned again to Makuchyan's room and banged the door three times with his bloodied axe. At that moment the police arrived.

“When I came out of the room I saw traces of the bloody axe. I immediately thought of Gurgen. I realized that something like that had happened. I tried to run out of my room but I was pushed back and then I realized that Gurgen was not alive anymore,” Makuchyan says.

In the corridor he saw the arrested Safarov, who showed no resistance to police and was very calm.

“Only a murderer who had been prepared and trained for murder could be so passionless,” he says. “According to information I have, Safarov told Budapest police that he had decided to kill an Armenian when he was in Baku and that his revenge was not against a certain person but against the Armenian nation. He said he didn't regret his actions and that after prison he would again be killing Armenians.”

Makuchyan graduated from Yerevan State University and is foreign affairs expert and historian by profession. He served in the army from 1996 to 1998 then went to work in the Ministry of Defense

He rejects allegations that the Armenian officers had insulted the Azerbaijani officer's national dignity, saying testimonies of representatives of other nations at the NATO program show them to be untrue.

In fact, he says, the Armenian and Azerbaijani officers were living on the same floor and became acquainted with each other during their first days in Budapest . Margaryan had asked whether they were Azeris when he head their accent.

Safarov responded that they were and shook the Armenian's hand, saying: “We are brothers.”

Makuchyan says: “However, after that they never greeted us when they saw us”

He says there was no consideration given to the safety of representatives attending the NATO event at the university in Budapest . Apart from Armenians and Azerbaijanis, officers from other feuding nations such as Serbs and Croats were also there.

“Five people could enter the building with the same pass and nobody would ask you why you are doing it. The Azeri bought the axe in a nearby store and easily entered the university with it. Even after the incident, the administration had no idea what room he was living in,” says Makuchyan.

“Gurgen didn't like to lock his door. I warned him a lot but he always told me he was not afraid. He was physically very strong. One could kill Gurgen only that way, when he was asleep.

“I have served in a military unit close to the border and there I developed the habit of locking the door. If Gurgen had locked his door probably the tragedy would not have taken place.”

On Wednesday, the leader of the Armenian community of Hungary Adam Sargsyan released information supporting Makuchyan's story. He said that investigation of the case is coming to end and court hearings will start this month.

According to testimonies by six witnesses from different nations, the killing was a premeditated murder.

“Safarov himself also said that he had revenged the deaths of his countrymen on February 26, 1993 , during the Karabakh war,” Sarsgyan alleges. “Safarov was going to execute his plan on February 26 but did it a week earlier because, as he testifies, Margaryan smiled at him strangely that day.”

The Turan news agency in Baku reported that Azerbaijan 's Ministry of Defense gave an outstanding character reference for Safarov. The officer studied for eight years in military schools in Turkey and served as a commander of a front line unit at the Armenian-Azeri border.

Thousands of Armenians waited at the airport for the return of Margaryan's body to Yerevan last week. Some carried placards saying “Stop brutality and genocide” and “We demand just and fair punishment for the Azeri murderer”.

On the same day, thousands gathered in front of the Foreign Ministry of Nagorno Karabakh Republic in Stepanakert to condemn the killing. An open letter of protest was sent to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe , the OSCE Minsk Group, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and to NATO.

According to Agnes


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