July 20th, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and Media Rights Institute (MRI) consider today’s (20 July) decision of the Appellate Court to uphold the verdict to sentence young bloggers Emin Milli (Emin Abdullayev) and Adnan Hajizade to pre-trial detention unfounded, and strongly condemn it.

IRFS and MRI believe that the decision to reject their appeal without considering their arrest from the first day, inhumane treatment against them, and denial to create conditions for them to see their lawyers within 24 hours of their arrest prove that this decision is politically motivated.
On 8 July, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were sitting at a table in “Lebonese” (Livan) restaurant along with several other young adults, when two people that looked like sportsmen came up to them, and attacked them causing physical injuries. Although they appealed to police as victims, police detained Adnan and Emin as suspected persons for 48 hours and freed the attackers. On 10 July, Sabail District Court Judge Rauf Ahmadov issued a decision under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code to sentence Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade to two months pre-trial detention. Both Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade are being held in the Investigative Prison of Baku.

IRFS and MRI believe that Adnan Hajizade’s and Emin Milli’s rights envisaged in Azerbaijan’s Constitution and the European Human Rights Convention, as well as rights and freedoms envisaged in other international documents – right to freedom of expression, right to freedom and inviolability, prohibition against torture and inhumane treatment, right to legal defense, and not to be subject to discrimination due to their socio-political views and work have been violated.
IRFS and MRI note that Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were the only working people in their families, and both of them have elderly parents in their custody. Therefore, their arrest creates both moral and financial problems in their families.
IRFS and MRI consider the Appellate Court’s choice to uphold the lower court’s decision claiming that they can evade investigation and hinder proceedings into the investigation absurd and unfounded. This is not valid evidence, but simple hypothesis. Therefore choosing the harshest sentence in this case is unacceptable.

IRFS and MRI call on Azerbaijan’s government to immediately free Emin and Adnan and to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those people who committed this provocation and inflicted seriously bodily harm against the two youth activists.
IRFS and MRI call on the international community to strengthen their efforts with Azerbaijan’s government to release Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli.