Baku Grave Crimes Court, chaired by Judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva, heard investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil’s request for the decriminalization of the sentence handed down to her under Article 192 (illegal business) of the Criminal Code. Khadija Ismayil’s term of suspended sentence was reduced from 3 years and 6 months to 2 years and 3 months.
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 September 1, 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 November 25, 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. An amendment has taken effect with regard to the disposition of Article 192 of the Criminal Code since 1 June 2016, and the journalist has appealed to the court to decriminalize the penalty given to her under this Article.
Speaking about the hearing, Khadija Ismayil said the court had repeated the prosecutor’s words. “But now, the amount of illegal business is considered to be not large, but significant. Based on this, the court reduced the sentence rendered under Article 192 from 2 years to 4 months. The overall sentence decreased from 3 years and 6 months to 2 years and 3 months. But the probation period of 5 years remained unchanged,” Khadija Ismayil said.