May 23rd, 2008

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety condemns the 21 May 2008 decision to close the criminal case instituted on the 22 February beating of “Azadlig” Newspaper correspondent Agil Khalil in “Zeytun Baglari” (Olive Gardens).

According to a press release disseminated by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office,, “During the conduction of the investigation it was not verified that there was no violations of the criminal procedural legislation (Khalil alleged he, his lawyer and his relative were pressured), and the case material regarding the beating of Agil Khalil in the area of ‘Zeytun Baglari’ also was not confirmed. Therefore this case is being closed.”

IRFS believes that the closing of the criminal case on the beating of Agil Khalil without the pressing of any charges is completely illegal. The entire investigation carried out by Binegedi District Police Department #7 was completely belated, as it was passed to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and then being again sent back to Police Department #7. Khalil didn’t even undergo a forensic examination for injuries from the 22 February until 14 March.  Photos and video footage that prove Khalil was beat have been widely disseminated, and the local and international communities have reacted to this will statement, and demands that appropriate institutions investigate this case.

Khalil’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov told IRFS that the Chief Prosecutor’s press release in inaccurate. “I consider that dissemination of fallacious statement in my name abuse against me,” said Sadigov. “Through their own actions they show evidence of their desire to bury this case.”

According to Khalil, his parents accuse the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of disseminating untrue information and report that in complete contradiction with what the Prosecutor’s Office reported, they were continuously anxious about the investigation.

IRFS calls for the Chief Prosecutor’s Office to reinvestigate the crimes that have been committed against Agil Khalil and to reinstate the criminal case related to this matter. In addition, IRFS appeals to the government of Azerbaijan to intervene in the case of Khalil beating and to properly fulfill its obligations in the area of human rights. IRFS also calls on the international community to compel the government of Azerbaijan to reinvestigate Khalil’s case and to investigate it in a fair manner.