Armenia files suit against Azerbaijan at World Court

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Armenia filed a case at the World Court asserting that Azerbaijan has violated an international treaty on racial discrimination, the court said on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Azerbaijan would defend itself "robustly" and planned to file a countersuit accusing Armenia of the same thing.

In fighting last September to November, Azeri troops drove ethnic Armenian forces out of swathes of territory they had controlled since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region, before Russia brokered a ceasefire.

In the filing, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of subjecting Armenians to racial discrimination "for decades" in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which both states are signatories, the court said.

Since the Nov. 10 ceasefire, Azerbaijan has "continued to engage in the murder, torture and other abuse of Armenian prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons," the court cited the suit as saying.

"Armenia therefore requests the Court to hold Azerbaijan responsible for its violations ... to prevent future harm, and to redress the harm that has already been caused,” it said.

The Azerbaijan spokesperson said the country has been compiling evidence of Armenian human rights abuses against Azerbaijanis and it would file its own suit at the court in "days."

The world court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, is the United Nations' court for resolving disputes between countries. The court has yet to determine whether it has jurisdiction in this case.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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