Summary: Hearing 3
Speaking on the merits of the appeal at the hearing, Saday Shakarli’s lawyers Fakhraddin Mehdiyev and Bahruz Bayramov requested acquittal of their client;
Saday Shakarli said he was in agreement with his lawyers;
Victim’s representative Ramiz Gasimzade made a speech, seeking rejection of the appeal;
Public prosecutor Hafiz Imanov also asked for dismissal of the appeal during his speech. He also asked the court to reclassify the charge against Saday Shakarli from Article 182.3.2 to Article 182.2.4 in accordance with the amendment made to the legislation.
Baku Court of Appeal, chaired by Judge Jamal Ramazanov, held a preliminary hearing on the appeal of poet Saday Shakarli. Saday Shakarli 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. He is accused of extorting 10,000 AZN by threatening to publish revelatory, discrediting and fictitious articles and to disseminate defamatory information about a senior official of the Ministry of Taxes on the mass media. Saday Shakarli was sentenced to 10 years in jail by Baku Grave Crimes Court’s judgment of May 16, 2016. Saday Shakarli has appealed this verdict.
Saday Shakarli’s lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev made the first speech at the hearing. “I have been to the treatment facility, where Saday Shakarli is treated. I asked the management to provide a document about Saday Shakarli’s diseases, and they promised to send one. This document is very important. We are going to present it to the court at the next hearing. Our request through this appeal is our client’s acquittal in light of the fact that Saday Shakarli’s action does not constitute a crime and the criminal case must be terminated on exculpatory grounds. We filed this motion at the start of the investigation, but it was not granted. Since the day Saday Shakarli was arrested, we believe that his action does not constitute a crime. He himself has pleaded not guilty. Firstly, this criminal case is based exclusively on speculations. According to the indictment bill, allegedly Saday Shakarli threatened senior officials of the Ministry of Taxes and demanded 10,000 AZN from them. The charges filed against Saday Shakarli are unlawful and absurd. The disposition of Article 182 under which he is charged reads that threats must be real and references must be made to a concrete victim, and the victim must have suffered material or moral damage. However, there is no victim in this case. The indictment says “about senior officials.” About specifically whom? It is unknown. The indictment speaks about senior officials, whereas the representatives represent a legal entity, Ministry of Taxes. What kind of damage it is about is also unknown. Secondly, about evidence. The evidence, just as the indictment itself, is based on assumptions. It is unknown what the phone conversation was specifically about or whether there was a phone conversation at all. Was there threats? In which form, is unknown. If the phone conversations were intercepted, then they could be retrieved and could be considered evidence in that case. There is no disc, either, to be used as a means of threatening. The charge is based solely on Asif Jahangirov’s statement. The court should not have accepted that statement as evidence. We believe that there was no phone conversation at all. Thirdly, I want to speak about Saday Shakarli’s personality. He has not committed any crime, not even an administrative violation. Saday Shakarli is one of the prominent and brilliant figures. His poems are published all around the world. He represents our literature in the world. The person’s identity should also be evaluated. After all, every human is valuable and should be valued. Saday Shakarli is a member of Azerbaijani, Russian and Bashkir writers’ associations. Anar Rzayev, chairman of Azerbaijani Writers’ Union, has addressed an appeal, characterizing the poet positively and requesting a fair decision for the poet. In addition, Russian and Bashir Writers’ Associations have also addressed appeals. We have presented them to the court. This many appeals are an indication of trust in the poet. This is an authoritative opinion and must be factored in. Last but not least, I should mention Saday Shakarli’s diseases. He suffers from diabetes and nerve disorders. He receives outpatient treatment on a regular basis. His illegal arrest and conviction have also caused him psychological trauma. Treatment Facility management said his condition was serious and he needed treatment. They will provide us that document. As the defense, we lay stress on the purpose of punishment. According to the legislation, punishment must comply with the principle of social justice. A prominent person, who is in need of care, should not be punished. Therefore, we request that the appeal be granted, and the criminal case be terminated on exculpatory grounds. It would be an appreciation of a poet and personality, and also bring honor to the court as well,” the lawyer said.
Lawyer Bahruz Bayramov took over from Mehdiyev. “Mr. Mehdiyev spoke about everything in detail. I want just to add that at least the charge against Saday Shakarli must be reclassified from Article 182.3.2 to Article 182.2.4 according to the amendment made to the legislation, because according to the amendment made to the Criminal Code, 10,000 AZN is considered a significant amount, not a large amount.”
Saday Shakarli said he was in agreement with his lawyers.
Courtroom speech of victim’s representative:
Taking the floor next, victim’s representative Ramiz Gasimzade said he did not agree with the appeal and considered Baku Grave Crimes Court’s judgment to be well-founded. Gasimzade noted that Saday Shakarli’s extortion of 10,000 AZN was confirmed by witness testimonies. He said 10,000 AZN was a big sum, and Saday Shakarli’s claim that it was baksheesh was ridiculous, as baksheesh could be 100 AZN or 200 AZN. Ramiz Gasimzade said it had been proven that Saday Shakarli demanded 10,000 AZN by threatening to disseminate discreditable information about a senior official of the Ministry of Taxes. Lastly, he requested that the appeal be rejected and Baku Grave Crimes Court’s judgment be upheld.
Public prosecutor’s speech:
Public prosecutor Hafiz Imanov asked for dismissal of the appeal during his speech. He also asked the court to reclassify the charge against Saday Shakarli from Article 182.3.2 to Article 182.2.4 of the Criminal Code in accordance with the amendment made to the legislation.
The next court hearing will be held on August 3, 10.30am.
Note that the sanctions of Article 182.3.2 (extortion of a large amount of property) of the Criminal Code, under which Saday Shakarli was convicted, stipulate imprisonment for a period of 10 to 15 years, while Article 182.2.4 (extortion of a significant amount of property) of the Criminal Code provides for imprisonment for a period of 5 to 10 years.