Closing arguments to be heard in journalist Nijat Aliyev’s trial

October 18th, 2013

Nicat (5)

A hearing was today held in journalist Nijat Aliyev’s case at Baku Court of Grave Crimes.

Today’s hearing marked the end of judicial investigation into the case. Now the jury will hear closing arguments of the defense and the closing speech of the public prosecutor.

“Judicial investigation was very poor. Only the prosecution evidence was investigated” journalist lawyer Yalchin Imanov told IRFS after the hearing.

“Such a course of trial was indeed expectable, because decisions made in such cases are usually politically motivated. Neither of our motions on questioning of defense witnesses was granted. These demonstrate how partial and biased the judicial investigation was. Moreover, there is no evidence proving that Nijat Aliyev committed the offence he is charged with” said Imanov.

The next hearing on the case will be held on October 24, 10:30am.

Background: Nijat Aliyev was arrested on 20 May 2012, just a few days before Eurovision Song Contest Finals, on charges of drug possession.

On 26 January 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 167.2.2.1 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens  based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media). His pretrial detention was extended for two months by Nasimi District Court on February 15.

Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.