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“The trial of Avaz Zeynalli, editor of “Khural” newspaper, has lasted eight months, and despite of 35 trials, the end of the proceedings is not in sight. The reasons for this is that the authorities are at a loss, because their accusations topple like a house of cards”, said Mehman Aliyev, the Director of Turan News Agency at a press conference in IRFS media center held on January 17th.Guler Ahmedova, main witness against Zeynalli, is now being accused of fraud. Moreover, the name of Presidential Administration Head Ramiz Mehdiyev, the person who ordered Avaz Zeynalli’s arrest, is mentioned in a bribe deal which has secretly been taped and published on the Internet. Authorities delay passing a verdict, as there is no evidence to prove Avaz Zeynalli guilty, and therefore any conviction will be illegal and politically motivated.
According to Media Rights Institute director Rashid Hajili, even more experienced officers of the Penitentiary Service are surprised at such a long delay of trial, because trials in cases of organized crime are usually completed much more quickly. According to Hajili, by procrastinating Zeynalli’s case, the authorities are trying to prevent recognition of Zeynalli as a political prisoner, although he is a political prisoner, according to the criteria adopted at the PACE autumn session.
Another gross legal violation is the failure of the prosecution’s main witness to appear in trial. The court is not in a position to demand her participation because of Ahmedova’s alleged illness, although for all this time she was interviewed for several times, and continues to teach at university, etc.
In addition, Zeynalli is accused of taking bribes in 2006 and 2007, but no evidence was presented. Defense team believes the recent statements by Guler Ahmedova that Avaz Zeynalli was arrested not on her complaint are contrary to her previous testimonies. Therefore, Ahmedova’s presence in the court must be ensured and the court must simply clarify the situation, and find the truth.
Human rights activist Oktay Gulaliyev calls on the media to get actively involved in the protection of Zeynalli.
IRFS Director Emin Huseynov suggested that Zeynalli should write articles from prison, which should be printed in the media, calling attention to his case.