Today Baku Grave Crimes Court held a hearing on the case of Khural newspaper chief editor Avaz Zeynalli. “Employees of the executive department of Narimanov District court falsified the procedure of preparing the lawsuit” said Zeynalli, in his court address. He cited the July 28, 2011 decision of the Narimanov District executive department, which stated that Zeynalli had been sued by singer Nushabe Alesgerli, “Azerbaijan” publishing company director Agabey Asgerov, head of the State Support Fund for Mass Media Vugar Seferli and Presidential Administration head Ramiz Mirzeyev. However the name of the presidential administration head was later removed from the list of plaintiffs, when the case materials were presented to the investigating body.
Representatives of the executive department, Yaver Allahverdiyev, Zaur Hamzayev and Galib Huseynli, who testified as witnesses, neither confirmed nor denied this claim.
Lawyer Elchin Sadigov made an objection claiming that the testimony by the executive department officials was a repetition of the indictment. He accused the prosecutor of working with the witnesses. His objection was rejected by the judge.
Judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva postponed the trial until September 20, 4:00pm, as the last witness was not in attendance.
The property of the Khural newspaper was confiscated by the October 19 decision of the Narimanov District Court, as it failed to pay total of 19,000AZN in compensation to Presidential Administration head Ramiz Mirzeyev, head of the State Support Fund for Mass Media Vugar Seferli, “Azerbaijan” publishing company director Agabey Asgerov and singer Nushabe Alesgerli.
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.