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The Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety condemns the verdict to sentence the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers, Eynulla Fatullayev to two years and six months in prison, and believes that this verdict was politically motivated and dictated by the Azerbaijani government.
A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding the necessary limit for personal consumption) after 0.223 grams of heroin was found on Fatullayev in Prison #12 on 29 December. The Garadag District Court considered the case and issued a decision today to sentence the journalist to 2.5 years in prison.
IRFS notes that Fatullayev was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to a pre-trial detention. After Fatullayev's 20 April 2007 arrest over defamation charges, he was then convicted under 213.2.2 (tax evasion). Fatullayev was then sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment on 30 October 2007 under the decision of the Grave Crimes Court and was fined 242 thousand 522 AZN.
On 22 April, the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision regarding Eynulla Fatullayev. According to the ECHR, the journalist should be released immediately and should be paid 27,822 EUR in compensation by the Azerbaijani government.
IRFS believes that the drug charges brought against Fatullayev was a planned set-up in order for the court to not comply with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist, and declares once again that this criminal case against him was bogus.
IRFS came to the conclusion that the convictions against the journalist were all trumped-up charges after the organization conducted monitoring activities of the court hearings on this case. The contradictory witness accounts given by the plaintiff’s witnesses, the failure of the court to prove the charges against Fatullayev and the unlawful actions that occurred during the proceedings into the case confirmed that this criminal case was contrived.
IRFS believes that this act against Fatullayev was also related to his journalism and his investigation into the murder of Monitor Journal Editor-in-Chief Elmar Huseynov.
Eynulla Fatullayev has stated that the results of his investigation showed that high-ranking officials were involved in the murder of Elmar Huseynov. Fatullayev said in the court that several days prior to narcotics charges he saw employees of the Ministry of National Security in the prison. He claimed that this case was also a set-up that included personnel from special services .
IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government to annul the verdict issued on trumped-up charges against Eynulla Fatullayev, who is recognized as a prisoner of conscience by both local and international organizations.
IRFS urges the Azerbaijani government to fulfill the decision of the European Court of Human Rights and immediately release Eynulla Fatullayev.