On October 1, Baku Administrative Economic Court #1, chaired by judge Elchin Mammadov, held another hearing on the lawsuit filed by the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) requesting the annulment of the October 17 2014 decision by the Tax Audit Department.
During the hearing, the defendant’s representative submitted a motion to suspend the proceedings on the basis that “investigations in the criminal case opened against the IRFS are still ongoing, [the] results [of the investigation] may influence the trial, and, therefore, the court proceedings must be suspended until the investigation is finished.”
IRFS’ lawyer Fuad Agayev asked the court to deny the motion. “Your Honor, this motion has already been submitted and denied on a previous occasion. There are no new grounds for the motion, because the matter in question entails a decision by an administrative body, i.e. the Ministry of Taxes. Therefore, the proceedings must continue”.
However, the judge granted the motion and ruled that the proceedings were suspended.
Today’s hearing was observed by one international observer and representatives of the EU Delegation in Azerbaijan.
Background: Based on the October 17 2014 decision of the Tax Audit Department of the Ministry of Taxes, IRFS owes 94891.85 Azerbaijani manat in unpaid tax, plus a late payment penalty of 48665.56 manat. IRFS believes the case is politically motivated and has therefore sought judicial redress.
On 8 August 8 2014 ,the IRFS office was searched by police, who seized a range of equipment and documentation. The investigators also confiscated numerous documents – grant agreements, financial documents, legal documents, human rights reports and press clippings.