On May 19, Baku Administrative Economic Court #2 heard the claim brought by Avaz Zeynalli, editor-in-chiefof Khural newspaper, against Ministry of Taxes and Department of Audit,as the journalist’s wife Malahat Zeynalova told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety today.
According to Zeynalova, their request for invalidation of the on-site tax inspection report was not granted.
Note that the tax inspection report of 22 February 2012 is one of the documents based on which Baku Grave Crimes Court ruled a 9 year jail sentence for the journalist. According to the court’s verdict, Zeynalli has to pay 4076 AZN to the state budget as a tax debt.
Background: Avaz Zeynalli was arrested on 28 October 2011 following a lawsuit brought by former MP Gular Ahmadova. 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) of the Criminal Code. Zeynalli was later charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion). On 13 February 2013 the public prosecutor requested 11 years imprisonment for Zeynalli. On 12 March 2013, the Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted and sentenced the journalist to 9 years in prison.
A wide range of 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.