On September 20, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Anvar Seyidov held a preliminary hearing on Giyas Ibrahimov’s criminal case. Oppositional civic movement NIDA’s members, final-year students of Azerbaijan Slavic University, Giyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov were arrested on drug charges on 10 May 2016. Both youths have claimed that they have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Youth activist Giyas Ibrahimov wrote “Happy Slave Day” and “fuck the system” on the late Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev’s statue facing the Central Bank near the 28-May metro station, and Bayram Mammadov took a photo of the slogans on the statue. The photo of the slogans was posted on NIDA civic movement’s Facebook page late on May 9. The two youths went missing since the evening hours on May 10. It was only on 12 May 2016 that the Ministry of Internal Affairs released information on the youths’ arrest. According to the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as a result of operational search actions carried out by the officers of the Drug Enforcement Department of Baku City Main Police Office, Police Office #22 of Nasimi District Police Department and Police Office #25 of Nizami District Police Department, 2,607 grams of heroin was found on Giyas Ibrahimov on the territory of Nasimi district and seized, and additional 1 kilogram and 10 grams of heroin was found and seized during the search of his apartment; and as a result of other operational search actions carried out by the officers of the Drug Enforcement Department of Baku City Main Police Office and Police Office #12 of Sabunchu District Police Department, 2,904 grams of heroin was found on Sabunchu settlement resident Bayram Mammadov and seized, and additional 1 kilogram and 150 grams of heroin was found and seized during the search of his house. Both activists are charged under Articles 234.4.1 (illegal manufacturing, purchase, storage, transportation, transfer or selling of narcotics, psychotropic substances or their precursors – on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons or by an organised group) and 234.4.3 (- in a large amount) of the Criminal Code. Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov were ordered detained for 4 months by Khatai District Court’s decision of 12 May 2016. The youth activists have reported being subjected to torture.
At the hearing, Giyas Ibrahimov’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov filed a motion to discontinue the criminal case on exculpatory grounds. In justification, the lawyer said Giyas Ibrahimov’s action did not constitute any crime. Sadigov said Giyas Ibrahimov was not guilty. He noted that his client had been forced through torture to confess that the drugs belonged to him.
Public prosecutor Ali Aliyev asked the court to reject the motion. The judge left the motion undecided.
Elchin Sadigov further asked the court to send an inquiry requesting the list of the cases which Oktay Aliyev, who was assigned as Giyas Ibrahimov’s lawyer during the investigation phase, attended as an attorney by appointment in May 2016. Sadigov said Giyas Ibrahimov had never seen this lawyer. He said it was unlawful on the part of the lawyer to sign the search record despite not attending the search and seizure. Elchin Sadigov said the lawyer in question had attended numerous cases by appointment during one month, and it was necessary to find out whether this lawyer, who was appointed as Giyas Ibrahimov’s attorney at the state’s expense on 10 May 2016, had actually defended Giyas Ibrahimov or not.
The lawyer also asked the court to require the recordings covering the period of 10 May 2016 through 13 May 2016, 5 pm, of the security and surveillance cameras watching the forecourt of the Temporary Holding Facility of Narimanov District Police Department. He argued that Giyas Ibrahimov had been tortured and as a result was forced to confess a crime which he had not committed. “If the footages are reviewed, it will be seen that Giyas Ibrahimov was subjected to torture at the time mentioned,” the lawyer said.
Besides, lawyer Elchin Sadigov asked the court to request the operational information log book from Baku City Main Police Department to determine whether there had been operational information on defendant Giyas Ibrahimov.
The lawyer further requested the court to send an inquiry to Baku City Main Police Department to determine the identities of the informants, who had passed the operational information to the police, and to question them at a closed hearing or anonymously on how they had known the weight of the drugs and reported it to the police. The lawyer cited a passage from the case materials which read that ‘operational information was received that Giyas Ibrahimov had bought 1 kg 012 grams of heroin from an Iranian citizen by name Akram and kept it in his house, and an operation was conducted on that basis’. “The fact that the precise weight of the drugs, even with the accuracy to a gram, was known in advance suggests that it was weighed beforehand and planted on the house,” Sadigov said.
The lawyer then asked the court to obtain Baku Grave Crimes Court’s and Nasimi District Court’s judgments dating from the period of January 2014 through May 2016 on the criminal cases investigated by Baku City Main Police Department and Nasimi District Police Department under various counts of Article 234 of the Criminal Code, in order to prove that Mubariz Aliyev and Intigam Mansurov, who had attended the search [in Giyas Ibrahimov’s case] as witnesses, were collaborators of the police and had participated in various investigative actions as attesting witnesses on a regular basis.
The lawyer’s next motion was about summoning Giyas Ibrahimov’s mother Shura Amiraslanova as an additional witness. In justification for this motion, the lawyer said Shura Amiraslanova had seen the police officers plant the drugs on her son Giyas Ibrahimov’s house while conducting the search and seizure.
The lawyer filed another motion to replace Giyas Ibrahimov’s pre-trial detention with house arrest.
Commenting on the motions, the public prosecutor said there was a warrant of attorney of lawyer Oktay Aliyev in the case file, which was a proof that the lawyer had defended Giyas Ibrahimov. As for requesting the security camera recordings, the public prosecutor said cameras did not store information or images in their memories for longer than three months. With regard to the motion on obtaining the operational information records, the prosecutor said it was unlawful to request that information. He further asked for the rejection of the motion to replace the measure of restraint, noting that the sanctions of Article 234, under which Giyas Ibrahimov was charged, stipulated only a prison sentence, which is why it was impossible to replace the pre-trial detention with house arrest. Moreover, he said Giyas Ibrahimov could elude investigation. The public prosecutor left it up to the court to decide whether to summon Giyas Ibrahimov’s mother Shura Amiraslanova as an additional witness. He then asked the court to order that the case proceed to trial.
Defendant Giyas Ibrahimov disagreed with the public prosecutor’s arguments. He said he had nothing to do with drugs and had been arrested for his writing on the poster of former president Heydar Aliyev. He then made an objection to the judges.
The motions were partially granted by the court; the motions related to summoning an additional witness and seeking the security camera recordings were sustained, the motion to replace the pre-trial detention was dismissed with the judge saying that there was no need for it, and the rest of the motions were left undecided.
The trial date on the case was set for September 27, 4.30pm.