Gulu Maharramli Insists on Arif Alishanov’s Attendance

 Summary: Hearing 2 (April 8)

  • Journalist Gulu Maharramli’s lawyer Javid Rzazade filed another motion for private prosecutor Arif Alishanov’s participation in the hearing. The lawyer said the court should refuse to begin the trial without the private prosecutor’s presence and should send the complaint back;

  • Commenting on the motion, private prosecutor Arif Alishanov’s representative and lawyer Zaur Abbasov said he was representing the private prosecutor as his authorized representative and lawyer, and therefore, Arif Alishanov’s attendance was unnecessary;

  • Journalist Gulu Maharramli also noted that Arif Alishanov needed to participate in the hearings;

  • The judge decided that the case would proceed to trial.

Yasamal District Court chaired by Judge Azer Tagiyev held a preliminary hearing on the private prosecution case brought by state television AzTV’s Chairman Arif Alishanov against journalist Gulu Maharramli under Articles 147 (libel) and 148 (insult) of the Criminal Code.

The people, who came to attend the hearing, were strictly checked. Their bags and their persons were first checked with police scanners, and after that they entered the court building through a security scanner installed at the court’s entrance. Their mobile phones, computers, photo cameras, voice recorders and other technical devices were taken by the police.

The court hearing was observed by numerous journalists and members of the public.

Private prosecutor Arif Alishanov’s representative and lawyer Zaur Abbasov, journalist Gulu Maharramli and his lawyer Javid Rzazade participated in the hearing.

Lawyer’s motion:

Journalist Gulu Maharramli’s lawyer Javid Rzazade filed a motion at the hearing. “The previous preliminary hearing was postponed due to private prosecutor Arif Alishanov’s failure to show up in court, i.e. the court adjourned the proceedings to ensure the private prosecutor’s participation.

According to Article 103.1 of the Criminal Procedure Code, during a criminal prosecution the representative of a private prosecutor shall exercise the rights of the private prosecutor, excluding inalienable personal rights. Arif Alishanov’s rights belong to inalienable rights. It is about his honor and dignity. Any representation is not reasonable. Article 103.3 of the Criminal Procedure Code reads that at the request of the private prosecutor participating in criminal proceedings, the court shall appoint a lawyer as his representative. Mere existence of a power of attorney does not mean the private prosecutor’s participation in the hearing. He must apply in person in order for the court to appoint a representative and after that the representative may conduct his case. Arif Alishanov did not attend the previous court hearing, and the hearing was put off. He has not come today, either. I leave it up to court to decide whether to consider his absence from today’s hearing as a repeated absence. In my view, the hearing should be postponed again, and the court’s decision must be executed. The hearing was postponed to ensure the private prosecutor’s attendance, and to determine with his participation whether the representative may conduct his case. According to the legislation, Arif Alishanov’s honor and dignity are his inalienable rights, and he must attend the hearing in person,” lawyer Javid Rzazade said.

Commenting on the motion, private prosecutor Arif Alishanov’s representative and lawyer Zaur Abbasov said the approach and the motion were unreasonable. Referring to Article 88.5 (private prosecutor shall participate in hearings in person or through his representative) of the Criminal Procedure Code, Abbasov said he was the private prosecutor’s authorized representative and lawyer and was representing him, and therefore Arif Alishanov’s participation in hearings was unnecessary.

After that, journalist Gulu Maharramli said private prosecutor Arif Alishanov needed to attend the hearings. “I do not have knowledge in law, but I have been working as a journalist for 40 years. I want to focus on the moral side of the matter. I respect the court and have showed up. I have said and I say again that this person, who heads AzTV, has no journalistic professionalism. He is not a creative person. The state allocates about 50 million AZN to the Azerbaijani Television. The head of the state speaks about economizing on government funds. Meantime, this person used government funds to produce a 3-hour video against me. He mobilized his employees for the 3-hour program. You need hours of editing work to prepare one program. This person is unable to explain in what form his honor and dignity have been insulted. I am a Doctor of Science and professor. I am the author of about 30 books, all of which are about TV journalism. My job is giving an opinion. I have criticized and it is disappointing that this has ended up in court. Let him come and explain what he feels offended by? Honor and dignity is like a family. You should not entrust them to someone else. The representative cannot reply. He needs to come himself,” the journalist said.

The judge decided that the case would proceed to trial, and the trial date was set for April 15, 14.30.

Background: The reason Arif Alishanov sued Gulu Maharramli is the journalist’s critical remarks about the current head of AzTV in his interview with on the 60th anniversary of TV broadcasting in Azerbaijan. AzTV chairman has also filed a civil suit against the journalist demanding compensation in the amount of 100,000 AZN.

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