Avaz Zeynalli begins testifying

The trial of the arrested chief editor of the Khural newspaper, Avaz Z|eynalli, was re-opened on November 20th at Baku Grave Crimes Court. Judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva presided over the hearing.

Avaz Zeynalli, his lawyers Elchin Sadigov, Yalchin Imanov and Mansum Bayramov and public prosecutor Ramazan Hadiyev were in attendance.

 The judge announced that she had denied Zeynalli’s petition filed in the previous hearing, which requested the court to ask Azercell and Bakcell Mobile Service Providers to provide the lists of calls and text messages that the editor-in-chief had received. Then the judge asked Zeynalli to testify.
 When Avaz Zeynalli filed another motion requesting witness Guler Ahmedova’s presence in the trial, the judge said that Ahmedova had already provided her testimony.
 In his testimony, Zeynalli announced that his arrest is politically motivated and that he was arrested for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Zeynalli reminded that the Khural newspaper was repeatedly sued by high-raking state officials: in June 2010 the newspaper was litigated by Presidential Administration head Ramiz Mehdiyev and in July by Vugar Seferli, Head of the State Support Fund for Mass Media Development. Zeynalli also mentioned that when Khural started to be published on a daily basis, the Press Council included the newspaper in its black-list. According to the chief editor, the newspaper’s property was confiscated on October 19, 2011 following a lawsuit brought by Ramiz Mehdiyev. “On October 20th state order was given to ban the publication of the newspaper” said Zeynalli.
 Hearing of Zeynalli’s testimony will continue on November 21, at 10:00am.
 Avaz Zeynalli is charged with taking large bribe (Article 311.3.3) and extortion (Article 311.3.4). However Zeynalli is denying the charges. It is widely believed that Zeynalli’s arrest is politically motivated and related to his professional activities.  

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