19 people convicted in “Tartar case” released – Prosecutor General’s Office

19 people convicted in the “Tartar case” have been released, 10 of them acquitted, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan said on 6 December.

Earlier three criminal cases against 19 persons convicted of treason and other crimes were returned to court. Their cases were reviewed by the plenum of the Supreme Court of the country “due to newly discovered circumstances”, the report said.

During the additional investigation, all the circumstances related to the criminal prosecution were investigated, the guilt of these individuals in high treason was not proven, and a decision was made to terminate criminal proceedings against 10 individuals and they were released.

The investigation fully examined the circumstances concerning the deceased Mehman Huseynov and Aghazadeh Elkhan and they were acquitted.

The investigation into the unlawful actions of several members of the Ministry of Defense in the Tartar, Agdam and Beylagan regions is ongoing. In May-June 2017, a group of servicemen, in the absence of proper authority and in violation of the law, illegally engaged suspects for interrogation using torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, physical and psychological violence, resulting in death and other grave consequences, the report said.

* After the April 2016 fighting in Azerbaijan, a large group of military personnel on the Terter front were arrested and brought in for investigation. 

At the time, the General Prosecutor’s Office, State Security Service, Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry in a joint statement reported the involvement of these individuals in espionage in favor of Armenia.

The mass torture of detainees in May-June 2017 was not revealed to the public until 2019.

According to human rights defenders, more than 100 soldiers and officers were tortured, 25 were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment and at least nine died from torture. According to witness testimony and forensic materials, the accused were subjected to severe torture.

After numerous protests by relatives of the victims and demands of human rights defenders, the authorities acknowledged the facts of unjustified persecution and were forced to initiate a review of the cases of the convicts.  So far, the authorities have not presented evidence of espionage and concrete facts. No one from the leadership of the security services has been punished or admitted guilt.

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