Azerbaijan pardons, frees convicted killer

An Azerbaijani military officer sentenced to life in prison in Hungary was sent back to his homeland and, despite assurances, was immediately pardoned and freed by Azerbaijan's president.

Lt. Ramil Safarov was given a life sentence in 2006 by the Budapest City Court after he confessed to hacking to death Lt. Gurgen Markarian of Armenia while both were in Hungary for a 2004 NATO language course.

Hungary had sent Safarov back to Azerbaijan on Friday only after receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani Justice Ministry that Safarov's sentence, which included the possibility of parole after 25 years, would be enforced.

In a statement, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Safarov was being "released from serving his life sentence."