Defendants in Nardaran Trial Vow Not to Attend Hearings Anymore

September 23rd, 2016

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On 23 September 2016 Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov continued the hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement’s Chairman Taleh Bagirzade and other members of the Muslim Union Movement, charged under 21 articles of the Criminal Code including homicide, terrorism and incitement.

The APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli who is not a member of the Movement but yet accused of promoting their cause is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code respectively.

On 26 November 2015 an armed incident occurred between a group of believers and policemen in Nardaran settlement of Baku, during an operation conducted by the police. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several believers were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched in relation to the incident by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.

 Fuad Gahramanli, who was not present during the incident, was arrested on 8 December, 2015. His lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that Fuad Gahramanli was arrested due to his Facebook posts and his case was merged with the criminal case of the people arrested over the Nardaran incidents.

At the hearing, lawyer Yalchin Imanov filed a motion to ensure the presence of defendant Abbas Huseynov who made offensive remarks towards the victims at the previous hearing and, as a result, was not allowed to attend the hearing in question. Huseynov, a member of the Muslim Union Movement, is charged under 22 articles of the Criminal Code.

“The court has already made its decision. If Abbas Huseynov wants to participate, he should first apply to court in writing and promise not to repeat such actions. We cannot let the hearing continue that way,” the presiding judge said.

A 10-minute break was announced at the hearing.

“We consulted and decided that Abbas Huseynov’s participation in the hearing must be ensured. The hearing should continue in his presence. Otherwise, we will not question the witnesses or participate in any way. We file this motion on behalf of both the defendants and the lawyers. We are defending the interests of the accused persons and act on their instructions,” Yalchin Imanov said after the break.

“I am seconding the motion and noting that Abbas Huseynov has been indicted with the highest number of charges amounting to a total of 22, while the rest of the defendants face 21 charges. He is the main defendant mentioned in the criminal case. According to the indictment, Taleh Bagirzade is allegedly the organiser of the criminal gang and Abbas Huseynov is the arms supplier. I believe that his presence at the hearing should be ensured, and the hearing should proceed with his participation,” lawyer FarizNamazli said.

“According to Law on Advocates’ Activities and Criminal Procedure Code, lawyers are acting in the interests of their clients. It would be in their interests not to cross-examine the witnesses. To this end, we will not participate,” lawyer Nemat Karimli said.

The other lawyers and the defendants also backed the motion.

Prosecutor Nasib Bayramov in turn said that the defendants continuously ignored repeated warnings issued to them. He claimed that the lawyers’ motion resulted in red-tape and violation of the defendants’ rights.

Following an on-the-bench deliberation, the presiding judge announced that the motion was rejected. He said the defendants were not obligated to ask questions to the witnesses and the court hearing had to move on.

At this point, Taleh Bagirzade turned toward the judge and asked: “If you do not grant the motion to ensure Abbas Huseynov’s presence at the hearing, I want to ask you one question. Who do you think IlhamAliyev will become after the 26 September  referendum, a king or a shah? Which of the two? Please answer this question.”  The judge said he had not given the floor to Taleh Bagirzade.

Thereupon, the defendants chanted slogans “Freedom” and “Resign.”

The next hearing was set for 28 September 2016, 10.00am. The judge said he would file a complaint with the Bar Association against the lawyers.