Today, 26 April, in the Garadag District Court, under the chairmanship of Judge Ismayil Khalilov, a preliminary hearing was conducted on the criminal case opened against imprisoned Editor-in-chief of Gundalik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev.
Fatullayev’s defense lawyer Isakhan Ashurov recalled that the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision on 22 April to immediately release Eynulla Fatullayev. Ashurov filed a motion to free Fatullayev from the iron bars and to prepare room for him at the table where the lawyer sat. The judge fulfilled this motion. Convey Chief Gazanfar Hasanov declined to execute this request of the judge; therefore the hearing was postponed for a recess. Consequently, the judge’s decision was fulfilled and the chief received a warning from the judge.
Fatullayev testified and said that in prison he faced provocation used during the soviet era against prisoners, and assessed the latest drug operation as a form of this kind of provocation. The journalist stressed that although the decision to conduct a search on prisoners was issued on 28 December, it was actually carried out on 29 December in the morning hours. The decision was among case materials. He noted that the person conducting the search checked only one part of his vest and did not look at other parts at all.
“I have a secret pocket on my vest to hide my writings; I would have hidden the drugs in this pocket if I wanted to,” said Fatullayev in his testimony. “The most interesting thing is that neither people conducting the search, nor anyone during preliminary investigation discovered this pocket.”
Fatullayev talked about violations of the procedural rules; the drugs found on him not being measured or photographed, him not being told about his rights and duties or being provided with a lawyer though he demanded to have one during the search, his family not being notified of the incident, two expert opinions regarding this charge and so on. He assessed all these as a special operation and provocation against himself at the eve of the decision of the ECHR.
After Fatullayev’s testimony the plaintiff’s witnesses were interrogated. Prison #12 Operation Department Head Karam Shirinov answered questions from both parties. Since the work hours were over, the judge ended the interrogation of Shirinov and scheduled the next hearing on this case for 28 April at 11 a.m.
The European Court of Human Rights issued a decision regarding the case of imprisoned Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev. The decision states that the journalist should be released immediately and the Azerbaijani government should pay 27,822 EUR to Fatullayev in compensation.
Eynulla Fatullayev was arrested in the court hall on 20 April 2007 under the decision adopted by the Yasamal District Court on the lawsuit of Refugee/IDP Rights Defense Committee Chairperson Tatyana Chaladze.
After his arrest, a criminal case was opened against Eynulla Fatullayev in the National Security Ministry Chief Investigative Office regarding an article published in Realniy Azerbaijan newspaper, which according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, caused foreign citizens and representatives of international organs safety concerns.
He was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to pre-trial detention. Eynulla Fatullayev was then convicted under 213.2.2 (tax evasion).
Eynulla Fatullayev was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment on 30 October 2007 under the decision adopted by the Grave Crimes Court and was fined in the amount of 242 thousand 522 AZN.
On 29 December, 0.223 grams heroin was found on Fatullayev. Eynulla Fatullayev and his lawyer assess this incident as an operation set-up to prevent the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist in the near future. A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding necessary limit for personal consumption) and he was transferred to the Baku Investigative Prison #2 on 2 January. The investigation into the case was concluded and it is being considered in the Garadag District Court.
Realniy Azerbaijan has been published as weekly newspaper, and Gundelik Azerbaijan was published as a daily newspaper since 2005. Eynulla Fatullayev established the newspapers and was the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after the arrest of the editor-in-chief in 2007.