On March 12 the Baku Grave Crimes Court announced a final verdict on journalist Avaz Zeynali. The journalist was sentenced to nine years in jail and will serve his sentence in a “common regime” prison. Zeynalli was also fined 4,076AZN for tax evasion. The court decision prohibits the journalist to engage in commercial activity for one year after his release.
Background: Avaz Zeynalli, was arrested on October 28, 2011 following a lawsuit brought by MP Gular Ahmadova on October 19, 2011. The Anti-Corruption Office launched a criminal case against Zeynalli under article 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) andarticle 311.3.4 (extortion) of the Criminal Code. He was later charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion). On 13 February 2013 the public prosecutor asked the court to sentence Zeynalli to 11 years in prison.
A large number of 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.