Court Denies Azadliq Newspaper’s Appeal

On 9 February, Baku Court of Appeal heard appeals filed against Nasimi District Court’s decision ordering the tax audit of Azadliq newspaper and LLC.

At the closed hearing presided over by Judge Gail Mammadov, the court rejected the appeals, as reported by Azadliq newspaper’s and LLC’s representative, Samad Rahimli, who attended the hearing.

Rahimli noted that Nasimi District Court had made the decision on 18 November 2016 ordering the tax inspection of the newspaper and the website because First Deputy Prosecutor General Rustam Usubov ordered it. Usubov did so due to the petition of the Chief of Grave Crimes Investigation Department Eldar Ahmadov.

Rahimli also spoke about the content of the appeals. “Despite Faig Amirli being an employee of Azadliq newspaper and LLC, the offences referred to in the criminal case launched against him under Articles 168.1 (violating citizens’ right on the pretext of performing religious rites) and 283.2.2 (instigation of national, racial, social and religious hatred and enmity) of the Criminal Code are obviously not tax offences. The tax audit carried out at Amirli’s employer – Azadliq newspaper and LLC – has nothing to do with the current criminal case regarding the investigation of crimes committed in the context of citizens’ religious freedom and hatred,” he said.

Rahimli noted that the tax inspection of Azadliq newspaper and LLC covered the period 2010-2016 and was, therefore, unlawful. “Even in the case of a tax audit based on a court decision, according to the tax legislation, the tax control authority may conduct a tax audit of a taxpayer on its activities in the last three years. However, the tax inspection based on Nasimi District Court’s decision covers the period between 2010 and 2016, i.e. six years. If the tax authority is authorised to conduct the investigation based on this ruling, it will have exceeded its powers relating to the time limits of an on-site tax inspection,” Rahimli stressed.

Rahimli said the Appeal Court’s reasoning would not be clear until after the court decision was received.

Samad Rahimli said the case would be continued in the administrative-economic court with a lawsuit against the tax authority relating to the tax audit.

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