Avaz Zeynalli appeals to president Ilham Aliyev

September 14th, 2012
Avaz Zeynalli, the imprisoned editor-in-chief of Khural newspaper, appealed to president asking to put an end to the pressure and harassment of his lawyer Elchin Sadigov.

In his letter, Zeynalli states he considers the judicial investigation into his case non-objective and unfair. He writes that his trial is procrastinated, the judgment of the jury is biased and unfair, he cannot protect his rights properly under the chairmanship of judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva. Zeynalli expressed his concern over the recent persecution and harassment of his lawyer Elchin Sadigov. Avaz Zeynalli called on the president of Azerbaijan to use his power to stop attacks against the lawyer and to urge courts to ensure justice in his case.
One of the appeals against lawyer Elchin Sadigov was filed with the Bar Association by the Baku Grave Crimes Court Ramella Allahverdiyeva, for leaving the courtroom without permission during the July 2 hearing. At the July 2, 2012 hearing judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva invited MP Gular Ahmadova to testify, without providing Avaz Zeynalli and the lawyer with copies of the case materials. The defending party objected, saying it was unlawful, as they had not been informed about this testimony. At that point Avaz Zeynalli refused his lawyer’s services and demanded him to leave the courtroom. Sadigov asked the jury to allow his client, Avaz Zeynalli, to file a written petition of refusal from his services, but the judge said he would decide on Sadigov’s request only after Ahmadova’s testimony. Abiding by the code of ethics for the lawyers, Sadigov got permission from the Bar Association and left the court room at 12:37pm.
Background
Avaz Zeynalli, the editor-in-chief of Khural, was arrested following a lawsuit brought by MP Gular Ahmadova on October 28th, 2011. The Anti-Corruption Office launched a criminal case against Zeynalli under article 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) and article 311.3.4 (extortion). Later he was charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion).  He has been held in Baku Investigative Prison for more than 10 months.  

Local and international human rights organizations strongly believe that the charges against Avaz Zeynalli are trumped-up and that he was arrested for his articles criticizing high-ranking state officials.