Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Special Co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan Andreas Herkel assessed the release of Azadlig Newspaper Editor-in-chief Ganimat Zahid under the presidential pardon decree as an improvement of situation regarding political prisoners in Azerbaijan although it might seem very small, according to Mediaforum website.
Herkel emphasized that he is concerned that the names of Editor-in-chief of Gundalik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev,youth bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were not included in the pardon decree.
Andreas Herkel expressed his position on the new criminal case launched against Fatullayev, which was sent to court already, and said that it is not possible to predict the decisions to be issued by Azerbaijani courts. He mentioned that some forces won’t be happy about the justification that E.Fatullayev would be entitled by the European Court of Human Rights.
Herkel stressed that there is enough evidence that drug charges against the journalist are bogus and discovering narcotics this way in prison does not look convincing.
US Ambassador to OSCE Ian Kelly sent a letter to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, according to Turan. Although Kelly appraised the release of G.Zahid under presidential pardon decree positively, he expressed regret for failure to pardon Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli.
Eynulla Fatullayev was sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment on 21 April 2007 for insulting honor and dignity. Later he was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority), and 213.2.2 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment on 30 October 2007. Prior to the new charge against him, Fatullayev was serving his sentence in prison #12. On 29 December, 0.223 grams heroin was found on Fatullayev. Eynulla Fatullayev and his lawyer assess this incident as an operation set-up to prevent the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist in the near future. A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding necessary limit for personal consumption) and he was transferred to the Baku Investigative Prison #2 on 2 January.
Realniy Azerbaijan has been published as weekly newspaper, and Gundelik Azerbaijan was published as a daily newspaper since 2005. Eynulla Fatullayev established the newspapers and was the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after the arrest of the editor-in-chief in 2007.
Ganimat Zahid was pardoned on 17 March under a pardon signed by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
Ganimat Zahid was convicted under articles 127.2.3 (hooliganism with intentional infliction of minor bodily harm) and 221 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code and imprisoned for four years.
On 8 July, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were sitting at a table in “Lebonese” (Livan) restaurant along with several other young adults, when two people that looked like sportsmen came up to them, and attacked them causing physical injuries. Although they appealed to police as victims, police detained Adnan and Emin as suspected persons for 48 hours and freed the attackers. On 10 July, the Sabail District Court issued a decision under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code to sentence Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade to two months pre-trial detention. On July 20 the Appellate Court upheld the decision of the lower court. The investigation of the criminal case was concluded and a criminal case under articles 221.2.1 (hooliganism) and 127 (inflicting intentional minor bodily harm) was opened against E.Millli and A.Hajizade and the case had been sent to court to be considered. According to the verdict of Sabail district Court, Emin Milli was sentenced to 2,5 years imprisonment and Adnan Hajizade to 2 years imprisonment on 11 November. On 10 March, the Baku Appellate Court adopted a decision to uphold the verdict of the Sabail District Court.