INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

November 8th, 2010
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the decision made by Court of Appeals, under Judge Mirpasha Huseynov,  to sentence Eynulla Fatullayev, Editor-in-Chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaidjan newspapers, to pre-trial detention.

IRFS suggests that this decision (05/11/10), which directly violates the European Court of Human Rights ruling for the immediate release of Fatullayev, is a clear example of a political instruction from the Azerbaijani government.

On the 20th of April, 2007, Fatullayev was arrested in court after a ruling by the Yasamal District Court on the lawsuit brought by Refugee/IDP Rights Defense Committee chairperson Tatyana Chaladze. After Fatullayev’s arrest, a criminal case was opened against him by the National Security Ministry Chief Investigative Office, regarding an article published in Realniy Azerbaijan newspaper. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the article caused foreign citizens and representatives of international organizations to be concerned for their safety. He was convicted under Articles 214.1 and 283.2.2 of the Criminal Code:  threatening terror and  incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority. He was sentenced to pre-trial detention. Fatullayev was then convicted under 213.2.2 (tax evasion). He was finally sentenced to 8.5 years in prison on the 30th of October, 2007 and fined 242,522 AZN by the Grave Crimes Court.

On the 22nd of April, 2010, the ECHR issued a decision that Fatullayev should be released immediately, and that the Azerbaijani government should pay 27,822 EUR to Fatullayev in compensation.

On the 29th of December, 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin was reportedly found on Fatullayev in Prison #12 and on the 6th of July, 2010, Fatullayev was found guilty under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (illegal possession of narcotics in an amount exceeding the limit for personal consumption). His sentence of two years and six months in prison began on the same date. The appeal field against this decision has been considered in the Court of Appeal. Court of Appeals sentenced the journalist to pre-trial detention.
IRFS notes that the Supreme Court Plenum is expected to consider the ECHR decision on Fatullayev, and in accordance with Azerbaijan’s obligations before the Council of Europe, the Plenum rule for immediate release. Sentencing of the journalist to pre-trial detention on the eve of this court hearing will further damage Azerbaijan's poor international human rights reputation.

Therefore, IRFS once again calls on Azerbaijani government to respect its international obligations, and to release journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, along with bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade.