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On September 9, Sumgayit Appeal Court chaired by Judge Huseyn Nabiyev held a 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.
According to Rovshan Zahidov’s lawyer Tahir Khanaliyev, the appeal hearing was marred by serious procedural violations. The lawyer says neither Rufat nor Rovshan was brought to the court.
“In court, I filed a motion for the examination of the evidence. If they do examine the evidence, some officials will have to testify in relation to this arrest. In that case, it will be found out that the evidence, which has led to the arrest, has been obtained in a legally unacceptable manner and cannot be considered reliable for judicial scrutiny. The prosecution asked for time to comment on the motion,” lawyer Tahir Khanaliyev said.
The next hearing is scheduled for September 21.