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Summary: 7th hearing
On 3 February, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Eldar Mikayilov held another hearing on the criminal case of Jam.az website editor, journalist Fikrat Faramazoglu.
The hearing continued with victim testimonies.
Shirin Abdullayev, who had operated the Hills massage parlour on a rental basis, gave testimony first. He claimed that journalist Faramazoglu had twice extorted a total of AZN 2,500 from him. “I operated the massage parlour located at the intersection of Samad Vurgun and Leo Tolstoy streets in Baku (at the rear of Baku Grave Crimes Court) from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, F. Faramazoglu, Jalal Mammadov and Kanan Verdiyev came to me and demanded that I pay them AZN 2,000 per month. I told them that I would report them, that I did not have money to give to them and that I did not run a brothel. Then, Fikrat came alone. It was February. He said there were articles about me. I said ‘Fikrat, sir, you cannot do that. I have a family and a child’. He said ‘You run a brothel. You bring underage girls from abroad and sexually exploit them’. He discredited me, and I gave the money. In April 2016, they came again to get money. I said ‘I am an IDP and do not have money’. They insulted me, saying ‘If you refuse to give the money, we will destroy both your family and you’. I told them that I would complain [against them]. He said ‘Complain to whoever you want. Many agencies reckon with me. I have subjected not only you but many people to misery’,” Abdullayev said.
At that, Faramazoglu sarcastically retorted ‘Wow, what a monster I was’.
Abdullayev continued his testimony. “I was planning to go and file a complaint, but on 30 July, a close friend of mine called me and said ‘I have good news for you, Fikrat has been detained’. I was euphoric and voluntarily went to the Department and gave a statement. I noted in my report that he had squeezed AZN 2,500 from me and he admitted that,” Abdullayev noted.
Then, Abdullayev was cross-examined by lawyer Elchin Sadigov. In response to the lawyer’s question, he said the massage parlour served to protect people’s health. “I have paid AZN 65,000 in taxes to the state in a year,” he said. Abdullayev added that he also operated the Jasmine massage parlour located near the Ajami metro station.
However, he did not reply to the lawyer’s question about who was his friend who had informed him of Faramazoglu’s detention. “His close friend is Seyfulla Azimov, chief of the Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD),” Faramazoglu intervened.
Next, victim Bakhshali Gahramanov testified. He said he operated the Aqua massage parlour located on 24 Khagani Street. “In January 2016, F. Faramazoglu, Jalal Mammadov and Kanan Verdiyev came and told me that they would take AZN 2,000 from me every month. In February, Faramazoglu came and said he would come alone to pick up the money from then onward. He said ‘there is an article about you on the website, go and read it’. There were such words in that article that cannot be said [here]. The article was on other websites as well. They stated that they published it regarding Faramazoglu’s jam.az. Faramazoglu took AZN 1,000 from me in April and AZN 2,000 in May, and told me that he would come again in July. In July, my son called me and said Fikrat was arrested. I went to the Department and gave a statement. I have given him altogether AZN 4,500 on three occasions,” Gahramanov said.
“Do you have something to prove that you gave money to Faramazoglu,” lawyer Elchin Sadigov asked the victim, who said he did not have any proof. “If the threats and intimidation were false, why did not you report Faramazoglu,” the lawyer asked next. “I feared for my son. I was concerned about my relatives living in Russia,” Abdullayev answered, and then added ‘I was waiting for this day’.
In response to the lawyer’s question, Gahramanov also said he paid AZN 65,000 per year in taxes.
Faramazoglu took the floor. “These people do not know me, nor do I know them. I have never met them. They are not telling these lies on their own. The persons behind them are MOCD chief Seyfulla Azimov and first deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Vilayat Eyvazov who handles his affairs. The cause of the problem is that I have touched these persons’ business. When I was held at MOCD, they told me ‘You have caused us AZN 400,000 damage. You have written articles about our facilities. Bring that money, and you’ll be free’. In 2006, I had a court dispute with Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov. My today’s arrest is the logical result of the process that started in 2006. I know it very well it is a political instruction. You and the prosecutor should stop this show. Conclude the testimonies, end the proceedings, and deliver the judgment. After all, you will do whatever you are told and instructed to do,” Faramazoglu said.
The next hearing was set for 17 February, 4 pm.
Background: Fikrat Faramazoglu was arrested on 30 June 2016. He is charged under Article 182 (extortion) of the Criminal Code. On 2 July 2016, Narimanov District Court ordered his pre-trial detention.