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Today the Supreme Court heard the cassation appeal of the arrested editor-in-chief of Khural newspaper, Avaz Zeynalli against the Baku Appellate Court’s decision dated May 13. Zeynalli and his lawyer Elchin Sadigov attended the hearing.
Zeynalli refused to take a sit and stood on foot. Presiding judge Ilham Jafarov ordered Zeynalli to sit down by calling him “convict”, which angered Zeynalli and his family members. Zeynalli and his lawyer announced their objection and said that they won’t sit in the courtroom any longer. The judge announced the denial of the appeal in their absence.
Background: Avaz Zeynalli was arrested on October 28, 2011 following a lawsuit brought by former MP Gular Ahmadova. 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) of the Criminal Code. Zeynalli was later charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion). On 13 February 2013 the public prosecutor requested 11 years imprisonment for Zeynalli. On 12 March 2013 the Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted and sentenced the journalist to nine years in prison. The decision was upheld by Baku Appeals Court on May 13.
A wide range 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.