Court Proceedings on Khadija Ismayil’s Claim against Prosecutor’s Office Underway

August 24th, 2016

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On August 24, Sabail District Court chaired by Judge Azer Tagiyev held another hearing on journalist Khadija Ismayil’s compensation claim against the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Khadija Ismayil is seeking 9,030 AZN in material damages and 20,000 AZN in non-pecuniary damage for the period during which she was illegally held in detention on the charge of driving to suicide (Article 125 of Criminal Code) which she has been acquitted of. Khadija Ismayil was arrested on 5 December 2014. She was initially charged under article 125 of the Criminal Code (inciting to suicide). Later, she faced new charges under articles 179 (misappropriation), 192.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.2 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of authority). On 1 September 2015, the court acquitted Khadija Ismayil of the charge filed under Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic (inciting to suicide). However, the court found Khadija Ismayil guilty under Articles 179.3.2 (misappropriation and waste on a large scale), 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.1 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of authority) and sentenced her to 7.5 years in jail and a 3-year ban from holding some public position or engaging in some public activities. The Court of Appeal upheld this verdict by its decision dated 25 November 2015. On 25 May 2016, the Supreme Court dropped the charges under Articles 179.3.2 (misappropriation of a large amount) and 308.2 (abuse of authority) of the Criminal Code against Khadija Ismayil, but sentenced her to a total of 3.5 years in jail and a 2-year ban from holding certain positions under Articles 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship) and 213.1 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code. In accordance with the court’s decision, Khadija Ismayil was conditionally released but will spend 5 years on probation. On 8 August 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court reduced Khadija Ismayil’s term of suspended sentence from 3 years and 6 months to 2 years and 3 months, on the ground that according to the amended Article 192 (illegal business), the amount of income which the journalist had allegedly made through illegal business is now considered “significant”, while earlier it was considered “large”; hence the shorter term of sentence.

At the hearing, Khadija Ismayil’s lawyer Yalchin Imanov made a speech and requested that the claim be granted. “On 5 December 2014, Sabail district Court sentenced Khadija Ismayil to pre-trial detention on suspicion of having committed the crime specified in Article 125 (driving to suicide) of the Criminal Code. 91 days later, she was charged under other articles. According to Baku Grave Crimes Court’s judgment of September 1, she was acquitted of the charge under Article 125 of the Criminal Code. It was then approved by the Supreme Court and entered into force. This is a proof that Khadija Ismayil was illegally detained for 91 days under Article 125 of the Criminal Code. During this time, Khadija Ismayil incurred both material and moral damages. At the time of arrest, Khadija Ismayil was working for Radio Liberty for a monthly salary of 2,000 AZN. During 91 days of her detention, her family would travel by taxi to visit her and would bring her dietary meals as she had undergone stomach surgery. Additionally, payments were made to me and Fariz Namazli for defending her rights. Altogether, it amounts to 9,030 AZN. This is the material damage caused to Khadija Ismayil. For the moral damage, we require 20,000 AZN. We demand that our claim be satisfied,” the lawyer said.
Baku city Prosecutor Office’s representative Gunel Akbarli made a speech and called the claim invalid. “On 14 October 2014, a criminal case was launched against Khadija Ismayil. In view of Tural Mustafayev’s statements provided to the investigation and other evidence, the measure of pre-trial detention was chosen against her. The claim should therefore be rejected,” Baku city Prosecutor Office’s representative said.
The next hearing on the case was set for September 23, 10.00am.