Court Drops Criminal Charges against Media Expert Gulu Maharramli

On 13 February, Yasamal District Court chaired by Judge Azer Taghiyev held a hearing on the case of TV journalist, media expert, Prof. Gulu Maharramli. The trial had been ongoing for almost a year on Azerbaijan Television, and Radio Broadcasting Closed Joint Stock Company (AzTV) Chairman Arif Alishanov’s private prosecution complaint against Prof. Gulu Maharramli. At today’s hearing, the court discontinued the proceedings.

Journalist Gulu Maharramli’s lawyer Javid Rzazade assessed the discontinuation of the case as the logical outcome of the fact that the case had been accepted for consideration without any legal basis. “It turned out that the negative opinion issued on the text of the interview [of Gulu Maharramli] by Z. Shahbazova and T. Ismayilova, linguists from Baku State University who have a close relationship with the Alishanov family, did not help the AzTV Chairman. Gulu Maharramli has proven that these opinions are scientifically unfounded and have been issued on instructions and has also filed an appeal in this regard. Also, opinions of prominent national linguists on the absence of any insult in the interview in question have been presented to the court,” the lawyer added.

Background: Media expert Gulu Maharramli highlighted serious shortcomings in state-funded AzTV regarding creativity while analysing the general situation regarding Azerbaijani television channels in one of his media interviews in February 2016, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of television broadcasting in Azerbaijan. Maharramli pointed to AzTV Chairman Arif Alishanov as one of the leading causes of these shortcomings, and strongly criticised his non-professionalism, mental primitiveness, and lack of knowledge in creative management and governance. After that, a one-hour-and-a-half-long video material full of offensive words was prepared with the participation of AzTV and ITV employees and disseminated on the internet against Gulu Maharramli. Unsatisfied with that, Alishanov further filed both an AZN-100,000 civil claim against Maharramli and a private prosecution case requesting that Maharramli is convicted under Articles 147.1 (slander) and 148 (insult) of the Criminal Code.

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