Expert’s testimony casts doubt over objectivity of judicial probe into journalist’s case

April 25th, 2013

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On April 24 the Baku Grave Crimes Court held another closed hearing on the case of Tolishi Sado newspaper editor Hilal Mammadov. Judge Azer Orujov presided over the hearing. The Committee to protect Hilal Mammadov’s rights, members of the public and human rights defenders held a peaceful protest against the closed hearing. The police did not interfere with the action.

After the proceedings, journalist’s lawyer Khalid Bagirov had an interview with the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS).

According to Bagirov, linguistic expert Ilhama Guliyeva testified in the hearing. “The expert’s testimony has revealed that she was given not the actual articles (written by Hilal Mammadov), but the USB memory stick containing these materials. However the date when she alleged to have received the memory stick does not coincide with the investigation documents. This contradiction shows that the expert has given her opinion without actually examining the articles” said the lawyer.

“Hilal Mammadov filed a motion requesting the judge to invite Interior Minister Ramil Usubov and General Prosecutor Zakir Garalov to his trial and question them as witnesses. The motion was denied” Bagirov added.

According to Bagirov, Hilal Mammadov expressed his objection to composition of the panel of judges (Mayil Bayramov and Azer Orujov) trying his case which not considered by the judge.

The next hearing on the journalist’s case is scheduled for May 1, 10:30am.

Background: Journalist Hilal Mammadov is charged with illegal possession of drugs in large quantities (Article 234.4.3/Criminal Code), treason (Article 274/Criminal Code), and incitement of national, racial, social and religious hatred, hostility and ethnic discrimination (Article 283/Criminal Code).