On September 19th the court process of the chief editor of “Azadxeber.org” Nijat Aliyev was held under the chairmanship of Zeynal Agayev at the Baku Grave Crimes Court. At first the defense lawyers objected the composition of the panel of judges. The court rejected the objection without reviewing it.
The process went on with the statement of the associate of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Nahid Mammadov, who submitted an opinion as an expert; he answered the questions of the defense lawyers.
Lawyer Abel Bayramov reported to the Institue of Reporters Freedom and Safety that during his statement expert Nahid Mammadov said that his opinion wasn’t based on any methodologies, and couldn’t justify the conclusion he came to in the expert opinion.
The judge appointed the next hearing to September 26th at 10:30.
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: 188.8.131.52 (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.