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Court in Azerbaijan sentences Nagorno-Karabakh activists to prisonte

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  • Court in Azerbaijan sentences Nagorno-Karabakh activists to prisonte

    Court in Azerbaijan sentences Nagorno-Karabakh activists to prison terms

    Associated Press Worldstream
    August 30, 2004 Monday 12:38 PM Eastern Time

    BAKU, Azerbaijan -- An Azerbaijani court on Monday handed down prison
    sentences to six protesters arrested in June for causing disturbances
    at a NATO forum attended by Armenian officers.

    The defendants conviced by a court in the capital Baku are members
    of the Organization for the Liberation of Karakbakh, a group that
    opposes ethnic Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory
    in Azerbaijan that has been disputed since a war that ended in a
    decade ago.

    The organization's head, Famil Nasibov, was sentenced to five years
    in prison, his deputy Firidum Mammadov to three years, while three
    members of the group's youth branch received four-year sentences.
    Their lawyers said they will appeal.

    The protesters pushed through police cordons, broke glass doors
    and stormed into a conference hall in Baku' Europe hotel where a
    NATO forum was being held in June, calling on Azerbaijan to stop
    negotiating with neighboring Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

    The protesters and hotel security guards suffered minor injuries in
    the incident in the hotel and the meeting resumed in several minutes.

    Armenian-backed forces took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding
    areas in a six-year war that killed some 30,000 people and drove
    about a million from their homes.

    A 1994 cease-fire has largely held, but no final settlement has been
    reached, and the ongoing confrontation has hurt the economies of both
    former Soviet republics.

    Armenia and Azerbaijan are not NATO members, but both participate in
    the alliance's Partnership for Peace program.