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Summary: Hearing 25
On 10 October 2016 Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov continued the hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement’s Chairman Taleh Bagirzade and other members of the Muslim Union Movement, charged under 21 articles of the Criminal Code including homicide, terrorism and incitement.
The APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli who is not a member of the Movement but yet accused of promoting their cause is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code respectively.
On 26 November 2015 an armed incident occurred between a group of believers and policemen in Nardaran settlement of Baku, during an operation conducted by the police. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several believers were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched in relation to the incident by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.
Fuad Gahramanli, who was not present during the incident, was arrested on 8 December, 2015. His lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that Fuad Gahramanli was arrested due to his Facebook posts and his case was merged with the criminal case of the people arrested over the Nardaran incidents.
Victim Ramil Alakbarov, officer of Post Patrol Service unit of Sabunchu District Police Department, testified at the hearing. He said that he lost his handcuffs and his shield was broken during the protest action by a group of people in front of Sabunchu District Police Department on 5 November 2015.
Ramil Alakbarov said he had no claim against the defendants, but did not renounce his victim status.
After that Anar Aliyev, an individual who had been sentenced to 6 years in jail for his participation in the protest gathering in front of Sabunchu Police Department on 5 November 2015, testified as a witness. “On 5 November 2015, we went to Sabunchu District Police Department to learn the reasons for the arrest of Elchin Gasimov, deputy chairman of Muslim Union Movement. We did not throw rocks at anyone. There are many instances of believers being illegally arrested by the police, and drugs and guns being foisted on them. Had they [the police] worked according to the law, we would not have gone there. Deputy Chief of Sabunchu District Police Department by name Shaig subjected us to torture. They wanted to make us testify against Taleh Bagirzade. They knocked us to the ground with our hands cuffed and trampled us. Some were even stripped of their trousers. They kept cursing and insulting,” Anar Aliyev said.
Anar Aliyev further noted that Taleh Bagirzade had always spoke about the protection of human rights and religion and never called for a takeover. “Our purpose is to free the arrested democracy in Azerbaijan,” he said.
Victim Yagub Abbasli, officer of Post Patrol Service unit of Sabunchu District Police Department, testified next. He stated that he lost his handcuffs and baton and his shield was cracked during the protest action in front of Sabunchu District Police Department on 5 November 2015.
Thereafter, witness Niftali Valiyev, who had been convicted under Articles 233 (violation of public order) and 315.2 (use of violence against representative of authority) of the Criminal Code and sentenced to 6 years in prison, walked to the witness stand. “On 5 November 2015, I was at the Abulfaz Aga Mosque. I used to pray at that mosque due to its closeness to my house. It was around 8 o’clock in the evening. I was sitting inside the mosque. Our guys came and said that Elchin had been detained and taken to the police office. We gathered outside the mosque. We were about 30 to 50 people. We headed to the police office to find out what they had done to Elchin. I was reluctant to go. We arrived in front of the police office. We were standing there for 5 to 10 minutes when an officer came out and told us to cross to the other side of the road as it was prohibited to stand on that side. We crossed to the opposite side. Another 5 to 10 minutes later, the riot police arrived. At this point, six or seven plainclothesmen came out of the police office and blended in with us, and immediately a commotion break out. There were cameras there, and whatever everyone did was recorded. You can review it and you’ll see what actually happened. In a moment, the riot police officers began beating the people. I was also detained. Initially, they sentenced me to 20 days. Although I was released a few days later, they detained me again and initiated a criminal case,” the witness said.
The next witness testimony was provided by Latif Ahmadov, who had also been convicted under Articles 233 (violation of public order) and 315.2 (use of violence against representative of authority) of the Criminal Code and sentenced to 5 years and 11 months in jail. “It was the Muharram (a sacred month in Islam) month on 5 November 2015, and like in every year, we were holding mourning for the Imam and giving repast. I was at the Abulfaz Aga Mosque in Mashtaga village on that day. They said Elchin Gasimov had been taken to Sabunchu District Police Department. We went to the front of the Department to find out what had happened. We were standing there calmly. They told us to cross to the other side of the road and we did so. We stood there. At first, there were few policemen, but after a while, their number increased. More plainclothesmen appeared. Then, a couple of men wearing costume came and gave instructions. And, the police attacked us. Over time, the policemen were growing in number. They started to shoot rubber bullets at us. They savagely assaulted us when we did nothing. They sprayed us with gas and shot bullets. One of them captured me and took me to the police office. The officers beat me up. They put pressure on me and told me that I had broken windows. I said I had not broken any windows. They held me at the police office till the morning. Then, I was sentenced to 10-day administrative detention. I was released on November 15, but was arrested for the same offence for the second time on November 30,” Latif Mammadov said.
Elvin Bunyatov, a witness in the case convicted under Articles 233 (violation of public order) and 315.2 (use of violence against representative of authority) of the Criminal Code and sentenced to 6 years and 2 months in jail, took the stand next. He denied using violence against the police, and said that, on the contrary, the policemen had subjected them to violence. “On 5 November 2015, we went to Sabunchu District Police Department to enquire about the reasons for Elchin Gasimov’s arrest. The police officers assaulted the people who had gathered in front of the Police Department building, and detained a large number of people. I was also initially sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention, but afterwards they launched a criminal case and arrested me,” the witness noted.
After that, prisoner Sahil Rzayev testified as a witness. “On November 5, I was at the Imam Rza Mosque, which is not far from Sabunchu District Police Department. I came across a post on Facebook about Elchin Gasimov’s detention and went to the front of the Department to learn the reasons. One of the police officers came and told us to cross to the other side and we did so. After half an hour, the riot police arrived. They asked why we had assembled there and we said why. They told us to go away. We said we won’t go unless we received the information we were asking for. They shot rubber bullets at us, beat us with batons, and pinned us to the ground. They found Muslim Union Movement’s cards on me and pointing to the Iranian stamp on my passport asked how it had appeared there. I said I had travelled to Iran to visit the grave of Imam Rza. As a result of the torture that they inflicted on me, I vomited blood. At the Department, when I said I would complain to Mehriban Aliyeva about the torture which they subjected me to, they cursed her. I can’t even bring myself to repeat that swearing. I was sentenced to 15 days, and later I went to Lankaran. Then, they arrested me again on November 29, brought me to Yasamal District Police Department and initiated a criminal case,” the witness said.
Next, the cross-examination of victim Ramil Salmanov, employee of Main Organised Crime Department, was resumed. Defendant Jahad Babakishizade said it was not Salmanov who had detained him, because the person who had detained him was taller.
Salmanov confirmed his testimony provided in court.
Thereafter, defendant Taleh Bagirzade filed a motion. “This is not the first time it happened. The same thing also happened back when I was out. Those, who are here, give a similar account. Jabbar has witnessed it, too. Abbas Guliyev and our brother Sahil also said the same thing. We are filing a motion here. Let the prosecutor’s office investigate why they are cursing Mehriban Aliyeva. What has she done to them? Let it be investigated. There is not one or two of them who do so. But no one would be keen to call someone else names. It seems there is an inter-clan war going on. I don’t know what problems they have with Ramil Usubov. I personally have heard policemen cursing Mehriban Aliyeva. I came here and those who testified also said this. Whenever someone says he will complain to Mehriban Aliyeva, employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs headed by Ramil Usubov call Mehriban Aliyeva names. What problem do they have with Mehriban Aliyeva that they insult her? They disrespect her. I give you concrete names: Karim Alimardanov and Shahlar Jafarov have cursed Mehriban Aliyeva. Let the prosecutor’s office investigate it,” Taleh Bagirzade said.
The judge granted the motion and said the issue would be investigated.
The next court hearing was set for October 14, 10.30am.