Courts Refuses to Change Measure of Detention for Poet Saday Shakarli

March 28th, 2016

Summary: Hearing 2 (March 28)

  • At the hearing, defendant Saday Shakarli’s lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev filed motions to let Saday Shakarli out of the glass cage and allow him to sit beside his lawyers, to include Azerbaijan Writers’ Union chairman Anar Rzayev’s official appeal to Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov in the case file, to change the measure of detention with house arrest for Saday Shakarli, and to terminate the victim status of Ramil Najafov, the representative of the victim;

  • Bahruz Bayramov filed a motion to send a request to Azercell Telecom LLC in order to obtain call detail records listing the incoming and outgoing calls for Saday Shakarli’s and witness Asif Jahangirov’s numbers between December 23-25, 2015;

  • The court sustained only the motions to include Azerbaijan Writers’ Union chairman Anar Rzayev’s official appeal to Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov in the case materials and to send a request to the Azercell Telecom LLC. The presiding judge said the other motions were not granted at the present stage.

Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Afgan Hajiyev held a preliminary hearing on the criminal case of the poet Saday Shakarli, who was arrested on December 23, 2015 and is charged under Article 182.3.2 (extortion of a large amount of property) of the Criminal Code.  

Lawyers’ motions:

The hearing began with defendant Saday Shakarli’s lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev filing several motions. The first of the motions related to letting Saday Shakarli out of the glass cage and allowing him to sit next to his lawyers. “Our first motion concerns letting Saday Shakarli out of the cage and seating him beside us. Saday Shakarli is quite an influential public figure, poet, pamphleteer and writer. He is a member of the Writers’ Unions of Azerbaijan, Russia and Bashkiria, and is a very influential person. On that account and in the presence of so many intellectuals, keeping this person inside a cage does not earn respect for the court. We request that he be let out. It is also for enabling us to develop the defense together. We cannot talk to him any time. We request that he be let out of the cage to sit beside us both at preliminary and subsequent hearings,” the lawyer said.   

Shakarli’s other lawyer Bahruz Bayramov also backed the motion. Saday Shakarli said it did not matter whether they let him out of the cage or not, as he would be put back in the cage (behind bars) after the hearing. The public prosecutor and the victim’s representative said there was no need to let Saday Shakarli out of the cage, and requested that the motion be rejected.

After a brief deliberation, the presiding judge announced that the motion was rejected.

After that, lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev read out Azerbaijan Writers’ Union chairman Anar Rzayev’s official appeal to Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov, and requested that the appeal be included in the case file. The lawyer noted that the said appeal asked for objective investigation of poet Saday Shakarli’s case.

The presiding judge said the appeal was added to the case materials.

Next, lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev filed a motion to replace the measure of pretrial detention with house arrest for Saday Shakarli. “First of all, already when the pretrial detention measure was selected against Saday Shakarli at the stage of investigation, we believed that this case was biased. I mean, this case lacks corpus delicti. This is a puzzling and controversial case. It is a politically motivated case. Therefore, right from the start, our position was that this criminal case should be discontinued. Our objection to the measure of pretrial detention is due to this fact. After the selection of pretrial detention, we both appealed the decision and filed motions with the court of appeal to replace the measure of pretrial detention with house arrest. They were examined and rejected. Saday Shakarli suffers from a serious type of diabetes. We have documents to prove this, which we have presented, and at the moment, he suffers from diabetes, asthma, arrhythmia, hypertension, etc. Keeping him in detention can potentially put the court at risk. Therefore, I once again file a motion to replace the measure of detention with house arrest for Saday Shakarli,” the lawyer said.

Fakhraddin Mehdiyev also requested that the victim’s representative Ramil Najafov’s status as a victim be terminated. “They apply it too often in relation to Article 182 (extortion) of the Criminal Code. Once the Ministry of National Security was in charge of a similar case, but we noted that the said case could not be led under Article 182. They apply Article 182 quite often, but completely out of context. According to the indictment bill, Saday Shakarli allegedly threatened to disseminate revelatory, discrediting, fictitious and defamatory information about a senior official of the Ministry of Taxes on the mass media and other publications, and demanded a huge amount of money, i.e. 10,000 AZN. I strongly believe that you even have not dealt with such an accusation in your experience. I have never come across such an abstract accusation that reads ‘a senior official of the Ministry of Taxes’. Who was this person that was threatened with defamatory information? What was that information? Can there be such a criminal case? This case should be discontinued. The court should not even waste time on this, because, the definition of a victim is given by the Criminal Procedure Code, and no one can interpret it otherwise or make additions or correction to it. It is within the competence of the Constitutional Court only. A person can be considered a victim if he suffers physical, material or psychological damage as a result of an offence. Which official of the Ministry has suffered damage? What kind of damage have they suffered? Physical, material or psychological? How big is the damage? How is it possible? We believe that Najafov Ramil Beytulla oglu’s status as the victim’s representative should be terminated in order to set this shameful matter straight.”  

The other lawyer Bahruz Bayramov also filed a motion. “According to the bill of indictment, Saday Shakarli phoned the witness Asif Jahangirov trying to extort money from him. But at that time his cell-phone had had a zero balance for already two months. That phone number is in another person’s name. Normally, you submit a request to Azercell Telecom LLC regarding numbers and they provide information. But unfortunately, they declined to provide information to us despite our 3 lawyer inquiries as to in whose name the number was registered, etc. How can one make a phone call from a number with zero balance? It is unclear. Therefore, I ask you to send a request to Azercell Telecom LLC in order to obtain call detail records listing the incoming and outgoing calls for Saday Shakarli’s and witness Asif Jahangirov’s numbers between December 23-25, 2015,” the lawyer stressed.  

Commenting on the motions, the public prosecutor reminded that currently it was the preliminary hearing stage, whereas the evidence needed to be assessed during the trial, and he requested that the motions be rejected.

Regarding the motion to terminate the status of the representative’s victim, the prosecutor said that the person was recognized as the victim’s representative at the phase of preliminary investigation, and therefore, the motion should not be sustained.

As for the motion to replace the measure of pretrial detention with house arrest for Saday Shakarli, the prosecutor said there were no grounds to replace the restraint measure and the motion should not be satisfied.

The court granted only one of the motions, which requested sending an inquiry to the mobile operator, and announced that the other motions were not sustained at the current stage.