Co-Rapporteurs Meets with Jailed REAL Chairman Ilgar Mammadov

June 17th, 2016

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Stefan Schennach and Cezar Florin Preda, co-rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have met with the opposition Republican Alternative (REAL) Movement’s jailed leader Ilgar Mammadov in Prison #2, REAL Movement reports.

According to REAL, although at the meeting Ilgar Mammadov expressed his dissatisfaction with the co-rapporteurs’ approach to the issue of political prisoners, he wished them success in their efforts in this field.

Stefan Schennach and Cezar Florin Preda, co-rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have been on a visit to Azerbaijan since June 15. On the first day of their visit, they were received by President Ilham Aliyev. On the second half of the day, the co-rapporteurs met with human rights activists and representatives of the media and opposition parties.

Background: Journalist Tofig Yagublu and REAL Movement chairman Ilgar Mammadov were arrested on February 4, 2013, in the wake of the protests that swept Azerbaijan’s north-western city Ismayilli on January 23, 2013 and resulted in the arson of the “Chirag” Hotel and 4 cars in the city. The protests broke out after the Chirag Hotel employee, Baku resident Emil Shamsaddinov caused a road accident due to drunk driving, after which he and his passenger, Baku resident Elmaddin Mammadov beat up and injured the Ismayilli resident Ramil Bakirov who was nearby, and insulted the local residents before the very eyes of the crowd, who had gathered in the area of incident. More than 15 people, who had participated in the protests, as well as Emil Shamsaddinov and Elmaddin Mammadov, were later arrested. Tofig Yagublu and Ilgar Mammadov travelled to Ismayilli one day after the protests, on January 24, in their capacity as a political figure and a journalist, to get firsthand information from locals about what had happened.

Yagublu and Mammadov were initially charged under Articles 233 (organization of actions promoting infringement of the public order or active participation in such actions) and 315 (resistance to a representative of authority) of the Criminal Code. Later, the charge under Article 233 was dropped, and a new charge under Article 220.1 (organization of mass disorders accompanied by violence, pillage, arson or destruction of property or participation in such disorders) was brought against them. By Shaki Grave Crimes Court’s judgment of March 17, 2014, Ilgar Mammadov was sentenced to 7 years and Tofig Yagublu to 5 years in jail. The appeal against the verdict was not granted by Saki Appeal Court. On October 13, 2015, Supreme Court sent the case back to Shaki Appeal Court for re-consideration. Shaki Appeal Court upheld the verdict by its decision of April 29, 2016. Journalist Tofig Yagublu, although released under the president’s pardon decree of March 17

On May 22, 2014, European Court recognized violation of Ilgar Mammadov’s rights under Articles 5.1 and 5.4 (right to liberty), 6.2 (presumption of innocence) and 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.