Sumgayit Court of Appeal continued the preliminary hearing on the appeal filed by Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov, relatives of Ganimat Zahid – the editor-in-chief of Azadliq newspaper and the host of the Azerbaijani Hour TV program who currently lives in exile in France. Rufat Zahidov is Ganimat Zahid’s nephew and Rovshan Zahidov is his cousin. Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov were arrested in July 2015, and are charged under Articles 234.4.1 (illegal manufacturing, processing, purchase, storage, transfer, transportation or selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances – on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons) and 234.4.3 (- in large amount) of the Criminal Code. On 28 June 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted both men and sentenced each of them to 6 years in jail.
At today’s hearing, the defendants were not in attendance, and the court discussed the defence motions filed at the previous hearing. Note that Rovshan Zahidov’s lawyer Tahir Khanaliyev had filed a motion to examine the evidence. » » » »
Supreme Court chaired by Judge Sevda Huseynova held a hearing on the cassational complaint filed by ANS Independent Broadcasting and Media Company against Baku Appeal Court’s decision on the cancellation of its license. The cassational appeal was not granted.
Background: On July 29, Baku Court of Appeal terminated the special broadcasting permit (license) issued to the private TV channel ANS TV on 25 October 2013. On July 18, National TV and Radio Council (NTRC) suspended ANS TV’s license for one month at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office and appealed to the court for the annulment of the license after a video emerged showing the TV channel’s US-based correspondent interviewing Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen. In its statement, NTRC claimed that airing previews of an interview with Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, constituted “promotion of terrorism.”
Rovshan Ahmadli, member of the Coordination Centre of the National Council, has visited the 7th Police Station of Binagadi district Police Department at a summons and spent almost 4 hours there, as reported by Ahmadli himself.
According to Ahmadli, the police interviewed him with regard to the National Council’s protest rallies for 4 hours.
“I was asked questions on believers’ participation in the National Council’s demonstrations of September 11 and 17. I said like every other citizen they also enjoyed this right. I was not subjected to any sort of pressure at the police station,” Rovshan Ahmadli said. » » » »
On September 20, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Anvar Seyidov held a preliminary hearing on Giyas Ibrahimov’s criminal case. Oppositional civic movement NIDA’s members, final-year students of Azerbaijan Slavic University, Giyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov were arrested on drug charges on 10 May 2016. Both youths have claimed that they have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Youth activist Giyas Ibrahimov wrote “Happy Slave Day” and “fuck the system” on the late Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev’s statue facing the Central Bank near the 28-May metro station, and Bayram Mammadov took a photo of the slogans on the statue. The photo of the slogans was posted on NIDA civic movement’s Facebook page late on May 9. The two youths went missing since the evening hours on May 10. It was only on 12 May 2016 that the Ministry of Internal Affairs released information on the youths’ arrest. According to the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as a result of operational search actions carried out by the officers of the Drug Enforcement Department of Baku City Main Police Office, Police Office #22 of Nasimi District Police Department and Police Office #25 of Nizami District Police Department, 2,607 grams of heroin was found on Giyas Ibrahimov on the territory of Nasimi district and seized, and additional 1 kilogram and 10 grams of heroin was found and seized during the search of his apartment; and as a result of other operational search actions carried out by the officers of the Drug Enforcement Department of Baku City Main Police Office and Police Office #12 of Sabunchu District Police Department, 2,904 grams of heroin was found on Sabunchu settlement resident Bayram Mammadov and seized, and additional 1 kilogram and 150 grams of heroin was found and seized during the search of his house. Both activists are charged under Articles 234.4.1 (illegal manufacturing, purchase, storage, transportation, transfer or selling of narcotics, psychotropic substances or their precursors – on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons or by an organised group) and 234.4.3 (- in a large amount) of the Criminal Code. Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov were ordered detained for 4 months by Khatai District Court’s decision of 12 May 2016. The youth activists have reported being subjected to torture. » » » »
Social activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was detained at airport and turned back while travelling to Poland on the night of September 18 to September 19. Recounting the incident, Hajiyev said he had not been provided any reasons for the ban.
“I was travelling to Warsaw, Poland, to attend the meeting of OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on the review of the implementation of human rights commitments. I was detained at the border checkpoint at Heydar Aliyev Airport. They told me that I was under a travel ban, but refused to inform about which agency has imposed it and why. According to unofficial information available to me, the ban has been imposed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” Hajiyev said. » » » »
On September 20, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe published its preliminary opinion on the referendum to be held in Azerbaijan on September 26. The Commission criticised the Referendum Act in a press release published on its official website.
The Commission gave a negative feedback on the Referendum Act after its review and described it as being “at odds with European constitutional heritage” for the reasons such as the lack of a clear constitutional procedure on adopting such amendments, the fact that there have not been any parliamentary or public discussions on the reform, the deepening of the imbalance between executive, legislative and judicial powers through further empowerment of the President, uncertainness of the legitimacy of proposed limitations concerning fundamental freedoms, etc. » » » »
Several youth activists were detained and subjected to pressure ahead of the National Council’s protest rally of September 17, as reported by the activists themselves.
According to NIDA Board member Masud Asgar, he went to the police station on summons at 9 am on September 16, where he was held until the evening and then released. However, he was summoned again on September 17 and was held at the police station until the end of the protest rally. According to the youth activist, at the police station he was told that he had been detained for his participation in the September 11th rally organised by the National Council. Masud Asgar said he would appeal to the court over his illegal detention.
NIDA member Ali Zeynalov was also summoned by the district police officer a day before the September 17th rally. “Officers came and took me to Yasamal district police station #29. They had me write a statement. They kept me until the night hours and then told me to come again in the morning. On the day of the protest, I went there at 9 am, and was released as soon as the rally was over. I did not face a particular pressure. They just cut my hair,” the youth activist said. » » » »