On November 3rd, the Baku Appeals Court heard the appeal filed by Khural newspaper editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli.
Zeynalli was appealing against the three month sentence of pre-trial detention he received from Nasimi District Court, and against searches of his house and editorial office. Judge Gail Mammadov presided over the hearing.
Although Avaz Zeynalli’s attendance was ensured, the hearing was not open to the public and media representatives and the journalist’s relatives were not allowed to attend.
After the hearing, the journalist’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov told Objective TV that none of his client’s appeals were granted. The lawyer noted that they will take the pre-trial sentence appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, and added that they will go to the courts of higher instances to complain about the searches of the journalist’s house and office.
On October 28th, 2011, Nasimi District Court sentenced the editor-in-chief of Khural newspaper Avaz Zeynalli to 3 months of pre-trial detention. The Fight Against Corruption Department under the General Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal case against him under Article 311.3.3 (reception of bribe in a large amount) and 311.3.4 (reception of bribe through the application of threats) of the Criminal Code. The criminal case stems from a complaint by MP Gular Ahmedova, who declared that the editor extorted money from her. International and local human rights organizations consider this charge false, and have issued statements declaring Zeynalli’s arrest a result of articles critical of the ruling establishment.
In addition to the editor’s arrest, the property of the newspaper was confiscated on October 19 for the failure to pay a total of 19,000 AZN in court-issued fines owed to the Presidential Administration head Ramiz Mehdiyev, Mass Media State Support Fund executive director Vugar Safarli, and to others. The newspaper had to stop operating on October 21 because printing houses refused to print it