Footballer Linked to Journalist’s Death Released from Prison

October 12th, 2016

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Baku Appeal Court chaired by Judge Hasan Ahmadov granted the appeal filed by Gabala Football Club captain Javid Huseynov, who was charged under Articles 307.1 (failure to inform about a serious crime, despite of being aware of its preparation or committal) and 307.2 (concealment of a serious crime without a prior consent) of the Criminal Code in connection with the murder of journalist Rasim Aliyev. Javid Huseynov was freed.

Javid Huseynov was arrested in August 2015 and was sentenced to 4 years in jail by Sabail District Court’s judgment of 31 may 2016.

Baku Appeal Court reduced Javid Huseynov’s sentence from 4 years to 1 year and 2 months, and as the latter term has been served out, the footballer was released.

Journalist Rasim Aliyev’s mother Teyfura Aliyeva believes that it is unfair to release Javid Huseynov. “First, the doctors guilty in Rasim’s death were kept out of the case. Now they released the mastermind of Rasim’s murder, Javid Huseynov. During the hearing of his case in Sabail District Court, Javid Huseynov said he had been told at Baku City Prosecutor’s Office that there was international pressure on our country and that he would be released after serving 3 months. And so it happened. What about this case was taken under supervision by the President? What happened? I am afraid they will release the other 5 persons (Elshan Ismayilov, Kanan Madatov, Samir Mustafayev, Jamal Mammadov and Arif Aliyev) who had beaten up Rasim. Javid’s release shows that anyone can kill whomever he wants and be released if he has patrons,” the journalist’s mother said.

Lawyer Alasgar Mammadli, who is a member of the working group of the Committee conducting public investigation of issues related to Rasim Aliyev’s death, says Rasim Aliyev’s case was not investigated fairly and comprehensively to the end. “The issue of the doctors’ and Javid Huseynov’s responsibility was put on the back burner. In particular, although the fact that Javid Huseynov was the main cause Rasim went to the incident scene and again Javid Huseynov was the one who insisted that Rasim go to the incident scene was a proof that Javid Huseynov was not a witness but a participant of the process, the investigative agency knowingly involved Javid in the proceedings as a witness to make sure that he got lighter punishment and then got released. Of course, the judges, who had to make a fair decision on the case, also became the investigative agency’s partners in this scheme, and eventually helped with today’s release of Javid, who was not a witness in Rasim’s death but was involved in it. Another important aspect of this is that, Rasim’s killing was a crime against the freedom of speech in Azerbaijan. Therefore, along with those who were directly involved in this act, the footballer, who brought this process to the breaking point, should also have served his deserved punishment to the end. The fact that the government-controlled justice system functions in this manner shows that the government disregards the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists’ lives may continue to be in serious danger,” Alasgar Mammadli said.

Five men, including Javid Huseynov’s relative, were under the trial investigation in connection with this murder. According to the indictment, Kanan Madatov, Jamal Mammadov and Samir Mustafayev were charged with the Article 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim), while Elshan Ismayilov, who is the football player Javid Huseynov’s cousin, and Arif Aliyev were charged with Articles 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim) and 177.1 (theft) of the Criminal Code. On 01 April 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted the five men finding them guilty of committing the crime of murder. The court sentenced Elshan Ismayilov to 13 years, Arif Aliyev to 12.5 years, Jamal Mammadov to 11 years, Kanan Madatov to 9 years, and Samir Mustafayev to 9 years in jail.

Background: On 25 July 2015, Rasim Aliyev received threatening messages on the social networking website Odnoklassniki. He was shown the images that he had shot while working for IRFS and was told that he would have to answer for them. On 26 July 2015, Rasim Aliyev appealed to Sabail District Police Office #8, informing them of the death threats. However, police failed to take action to protect his life.

On 6 August 2015, Gabala Football Club player Javid Huseynov was interviewed by journalists after the Gabala-Apollo (Cyprus) match of the third qualification round of Europe League. According to the media, Huseynov first called on the journalists, who criticized him for his obscene gesture made during the first leg match, to take a blood test, trying to indirectly hint that those, who criticized him, had Armenian blood in their vessels. Huseynov then acted disrespectfully towards a Cypriot journalist, who asked him why he raised a Turkish flag. Besides telling him in English that “Turks are my friends”, Huseynov made an obscene gesture to our colleague with his hand. The moment was captured by cameras .

Sharing this news on his Facebook page, Rasim Aliyev wrote the following words in his post: “I don’t want such an immoral and ill-mannered footballer, who cannot control himself, to represent me in European stadiums.” After that, Javid Huseynov and his relatives called Rasim Aliyev and Javid’s cousin invited him to a meeting. The moments of beating of Rasim Aliyev, who went to the meeting alone, were fully recorded by the security camera installed for the sake of public order.

Note that journalist Rasim Aliyev was a member of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety since the day of its establishment in 2006. After IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov was forced to go into hiding to avoid arbitrary criminal prosecution last August, Rasim Aliyev was elected the chairman of IRFS in the autumn of 2014 at a report-election conference. The Ministry of Justice was officially informed about the change of IRFS chairman. Although Aliyev was not actually working for IRFS as its projects were stopped due to the suspension of bank accounts, the confiscation of its equipment and documents and the sealing of its office, he remained the chairman of IRFS until his death.

A criminal case was launched in connection with Rasim Aliyev’s death under Article 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim) of the Criminal Code, as part of which five people were arrested. According to the indictment, Kanan Madatov, Jamal Mammadov and Samir Mustafayev were charged with the Article 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim), while Elshan Ismayilov, who is the football player Javid Huseynov’s cousin, and Arif Aliyev were charged with Articles 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim) and 177.1 (theft) of the Criminal Code. On 1 April 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted the five men finding them guilty of committing the crime of murder. The court sentenced Elshan Ismayilov to 13 years, Arif Aliyev to 12.5 years, Jamal Mammadov to 11 years, Kanan Madatov to 9 years, and Samir Mustafayev to 9 years in jail.