Defense questions credibility of prosecution witness in journalist Nijat Aliyev’s trial

July 5th, 2013

A court hearing on the case of azadxeber.org news website editor Nijat Aliyev was held in Baku Grave Crimes Court on July 4. Judge Zeynal Agayev was presiding the hearing. The journalist’s lawyer Yalchin Imanov told the IRFS after the process that the interrogation of the prosecution witnesses continued at today’s process.   

“A man whose name was Adil Ahmadov, son of Nadir,testified at today’s process. It became clear that he does not confirm his testimony provided to the investigation. In court he gave contradictory testimony as well. Another interesting point revealed that this witness has suspected ties with the police, that is, he regularly participates in criminal cases as a witness of the police. As the defense we appealed to the judge to ensure the participation of the other witnesses involved in the case. Judge Agayev said that the appropriate measures will be taken in this respect” said the lawyer adding that the next hearing will be held on July 11, 10:30am.

Background:  Nijat Aliyev was arrested on 20 May 2012, just a few days before Eurovision Song Contest Finals, on charges of drug possession.

On 26 January 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 167.2.2.1 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens  based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media). His pretrial detention was extended for two months by Nasimi District Court on February 15.

Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.