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Summary: Hearing 40
On 30 November 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court, chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov, continued the hearing on the criminal case against the Muslim Union Movement Chairman Taleh Bagirzade and other members of the Muslim Union Movement, charged under 21 articles of the Criminal Code including homicide, terrorism and incitement to violence.
APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli, who is not a member of the Movement but yet stands accused of promoting their cause, is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code respectively.
On 26 November 2015 an armed incident occurred between a group of Shia Muslims and police officers in Nardaran settlement of Baku, during a police operation. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several Muslims were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.
Fuad Gahramanli, who was not present during the incident, was arrested on 8 December 2015. His lawyer, Yalchin Imanov, said that Fuad Gahramanli had been arrested due to his Facebook posts, and that his case was being merged with the criminal case against those arrested in relation to the Nardaran clashes.
Lawyer Yalchin Imanov re-filed his petition from the previous hearing, requesting that the court call three additional witnesses: investigator Ismayil Aliyev who had interrogated witness Yusif Farajov, investigator Fikrat Guliyev who had interrogated Allahverdi Hadiyev, and Tarkhan Ahmadov, Chief of the 42nd police station. The judge rejected the motion on the grounds that not all of the witnesses on the list had been examined yet.
Lawyer Nemat Karimli lodged a petition to conduct a handwriting analysis, reminding the court that a document had been signed on behalf of an illiterate witness, Allahverdi Hadiyev. The motion was denied; the judge’s reasoning being that there were no comparable materials for the handwriting analysis, since the witness was illiterate and thus was unable to produce a signature.
Taleh Bagirzade then addressed the judge. “This is the fourth time that I am facing criminal charges. I am facing 21 charges, which are based on the testimonies of attesting witnesses. They have to be summoned and questioned. There are eight attesting witnesses in the case, but none of them have been included in the witness list. And, do you know why? Because these charges are trumped-up; that’s why they are no coming forward. Those attesting witnesses are the ones who saw the incident happen first hand. They must come and be examined as additional witnesses,” said Bagirzade.
The judge said that the witnesses whose names were on the list and who had been summoned had failed to appear for questioning.
Lawyer Fariz Namazli said that the statements of 25 people, including the detainees and attesting witnesses, were in in the case file and were in fact witnesses rather than additional witness. However, for one reason or another they had not been included on the witness list, and therefore they had to be summoned for examination. The judge said that this was impossible. He added that the presence of the remaining two police officers would be ensured after the recess.
After the break, Samir Hashimov, a detective in the criminal search division of Sabunchu District Police Department, testified as a witness. Annoyed by the witness’ frequent response of ‘I don’t remember’ to most questions, lawyer Nemat Karimli asked him, ‘Do you have memory impairment? Let’s conduct an expert examination and see whether you are in your right mind.’ This caused an argument between the lawyer and the witness. Defendants Jabbar Jabbarov, Taleh Bagirzade and Abbas Huseynov said that the Hashimov’s answers were aggressive and rude. The two parties blamed one another. Abbas Huseynov took off his shoe and attempted to throw it at the witness, but defendant Alibala Valiyev stopped him and confiscated the shoe. The judge issued a warning to lawyer Nemat Karimli, which was met by objection from defendants Jabbar Jabbarov, Taleh Bagirzade and Abbas Huseynov. The judge ordered their temporary removal from the courtroom. Taleh Bagirov stated that pursuant to their removal, none of the defendants would participate in the hearing in protest. A break was announced in order to have the three persons removed from the courtroom. After the break, the judge issued a warning to lawyer Nemat Karimli, and said that he would complain to the Bar Association if the lawyer continued to use rude and offensive words. As none of the defendants returned after the break, the judge took the decision to temporarily remove all defendants from the courtroom on the grounds that they had failed to fulfil the instructions for contempt of court. At this point, the defendants’ relatives also left. The judge ordered that they be barred from the courtroom in future. At this point, only media representatives and the three lawyers were left in the courtroom. The judge wanted to go ahead with the examination of the witness, but the lawyers refused to cross-examine him. The judge announced the completion of the judicial investigation and the beginning of examination of the documents. However, with only three lawyers present, the judge postponed the examination of the documents until the next hearing.
The next hearing was set for 2 December, 10.30 am.