Today (8 December) the Baku Appeals Court held a closed hearing on the appeal filed by the imprisoned editor-in-chief of Khural newspaper, Avaz Zeynalli. Zeynalli’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov reported that the appeal was filed against Nasimi District Court’s December 1, 2011 decision to continue Zeynalli’s pre-trial detention. Judge Vagif Mursagulov presided over the hearing.
Sadigov, Zeynalli, lawyer Gabil Gasimov, and the public prosecutor attended the hearing. The judge denied a motion to allow Avaz Zeynalli to sit next to his lawyer, and the former editor-in-chief was forced to wear handcuffs.
A CD submitted by MP Gular Ahmadova was presented to the court. The judge called a recess for the hearing to submit the CD for examination. After reconvening, he announced that the appeal was not granted.
Sadigov said that they will be taking the case to the Supreme Court.
Khural newspaper was published weekly from October 2002, and daily began to be published dailiy on September 20th, 2011. On October 19th, bailiffs confiscated the newspaper’s property due to its failure to pay 19,000 AZN in court-issued fines to the head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, the Mass Media State Support Fund Executive Director Vugar Safarli, and others. The newspaper was forced to close on October 21 when all local printing houses refused to print the newspaper.
Avaz Zeynalli was sentenced to 3 months of pre-trial detention on October 28th. A criminal case was launched against him under Articles 311.3.3 and 311.3.4 of the Criminal Code for taking a large bribe and taking a bribe in conjunction with threats by the Fight against Corruption Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office. The criminal case is based on a complaint by MP Gular Ahmedova, who claims that the editor extorted money from her. On December 1st, 2011, Nasimi District Court issued decision to not fulfill motion regarding replacement of pre-trial detention with house arrest.