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Summary: Hearing 32
On 28 October 2016 Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov continued the hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement’s Chairman Taleh Bagirzade and other members of the Muslim Union Movement, charged under 21 articles of the Criminal Code including homicide, terrorism and incitement.
The APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli who is not a member of the Movement but yet accused of promoting their cause is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code respectively.
On 26 November 2015 an armed incident occurred between a group of believers and policemen in Nardaran settlement of Baku, during an operation conducted by the police. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several believers were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched in relation to the incident by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.
Fuad Gahramanli, who was not present during the incident, was arrested on 8 December, 2015. His lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that Fuad Gahramanli was arrested due to his Facebook posts and his case was merged with the criminal case of the people arrested over the Nardaran incidents.
Defendant Shamil Abdulaliyev’s lawyer Zibeyda Sadigova filed a written motion. “To our information request City Hospital No.3 has responded that Shamil Abdulaliyev was wounded during the police operation in Nardaran on 26 November 2015 and was brought to the hospital by villagers. There is a photo that proves this fact. We want this letter and the photo be added to the case materials,” the lawyer said. The motion was granted.
Sadigova’s second motion concerned summoning MOCD officer Ibrahim Kazimov for a another interrogation. The judge said the motion could be considered in the future, should a motion be filed for the questioning of additional witnesses.
Lawyer Yalchin Imanov in turn said that witnesses Valeh Abbasov and Samir Babayev had been taken to Sabunchu district’s 14th police station, along with other witnesses who would also testify at the current trial, and subjected to pressure for renouncing their statements provided during the investigation. “Ten of them were freed that evening but Valeh Abbasov and Samir Babayev were not released. Even their relatives were not informed of their whereabouts. It later emerged that they were subject to electric shock at the 14th police station of Sabunchu district. The incident was also covered by the media. People are punished for speaking the truth in court. Putting this kind of pressure on witnesses is disgraceful. There is a possibility that due to the pressure exerted by the police, those ten people eventually confirm their investigation statements [in court]. Steps should be taken to investigate this,” the lawyer noted.
The presiding judge said the court would appeal to the Prosecutor General’s Office in that connection.
Thereafter, Firdovsi Sadigov testified as a witness. “I have never met Fuad Gahramanli in real life. I only knew him as a politician. Fuad Gahramanli wrote a post on Facebook about the victory of Imam Husseinand, I commented under that post that it was true,” the witness said.
Lawyer Yalchin Imanov reminded the witness of his investigation statement which read that he (the witness) did not approve of Gahramanliinciting ethnic, racial and religious discrimination as well as his appeals against the state. The witness denied giving such a statement at the investigating agency. He noted that his statement had been tampered with.
Subsequently, Ilkin Mammadov took the witness stand. “I have worked for the azadxeber.az website as an editor. I have temporarily suspended my activity as a journalist. I know Taleh Bagirzade, Abbas Huseynov and Agasalim Yahyayev. I was detained in front of my house and taken to the police department. They asked me questions about my work and my salary. I was held at Baku Detention Centre for 22 days,” the witness said.
In response to the lawyers’ questions, the witness said Taleh Bagirzade had never talked about establishing a religious state, taking up arms or committing a coup. He said Taleh Bagirzade had spoken about the burdens inflicted upon the people.
Samir Mirzazade was next to testify. “I have worked for the azadxeber.az website. I was detained while filming the developments in front of Sabunchu District Police Department on 5 November 2015 and taken to the Department. When the officerslearned that I was a journalist, they told me to stand aside. They turned my face to the wall. They brought the detainees and made them lie on the floor. I wanted to look, but they did not allow me to do so. They took my phone and deleted what I had filmed. They returned my phone only three days later,” Samir Mirzazade said.
During the cross-examination, the witness said he had been pressured during the investigation to testify against Taleh Bagirzade and Elchin Gasimov and he he was not asked questions in relation to his statement but was rather told what to write.
After the break, the presiding judge announced that the hearing would be postponed for 10 days to ensure the presence of the remaining witnesses.
Lawyer Yalchin Imanov filed a motion regarding his client Bahruz Asgarov. “According to the information received from the Emergency Medical Aid Station, Bahruz Asgarov arrived at Nardaran branch of Division No.14 emergency and urgent medical aid station at about 1.50 pm on 26 November. He was examined by Dr. M. Rahimov and it was concluded that he sustained a firearm injury to the lower part of his left thigh. He was provided first aid and placed in City Hospital No.3. We have finally obtained the response to our inquiry from the Emergency Medical Aid Station. The reason we file this motion is that, as seen from the criminal case material, the victim statements read that Bahruz Asgarov had allegedly been taken to City Hospital No.3 in an ambulance called by Karim Alimardanov. However, the response to this inquiry reveals that Bahruz Asgarov was not taken to City Hospital No.3; he arrived to [first aid] station No.14 and was hospitalised after being provided first aid. I kindly request that the certificate and the extract from the register be added to the case file,” the lawyer asked.
The presiding judge granted the motion and the documents were included to the case materials.
The next hearing on the case was set for 7 November, 10.30 am.