INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

December 7th, 2010
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the 11 November judgment of Supreme Court Plenary Meeting, and the alteration of the decision as well.

In its original judgment, the Supreme Court had illegally extended the sentence for Eynulla Fatullayev from 2 months to 2 years and 3 months under a tax evasion charge instead of executing the European Court of Humans Right's judgment on the immediate release of Fatullayev. However, the copy of the judgment presented to Fatullayev and his lawyers sets out different motives for the extension of his imprisonment. Specifically, prior to the arrest of Fatullayev in 2007, Interior Minister Ramil Usubov had filed a lawsuit against him under defamation charges and the Yasamal District Court ruled in favor of Usubov, sentencing the journalist to 2 years of conditional imprisonment.
Upon arrest of Fatullayev in 2007, this conditional imprisonment was replaced with 1 month of real imprisonment and combined with other charges. Presently, according to the change in 11 November judgment, 2 years of conditional imprisonment was changed to 2 years of real imprisonment.
IRFS believes that the issuance of such a judgment by Supreme Court clearly proves that the imprisonment of Fatullayev has actually been a political decision.
IRFS also believes that by committing such a legal violation, the Supreme Court Plenary Meeting actually refused to implement the ECHR judgment.
IRFS calls upon the Azerbaijani government to allow the Supreme Court Plenum to change this decision and release Fatullayev immediately.
IRFS also calls on the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers and other international organizations to condemn this decision of the Supreme Court Plenum and require the Azerbaijani government to implement the ECHR judgment.