The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety strongly condemns the decision issued on 25 January by Baku Appeals Court to reject the appeal of imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev against the Garadagh District Court's judgment. The decision was made in a hearing with serious legal violations which lasted past the working day.
The journalist’s new lawyer, Anar Gasimov was unable to familiarize himself with the 7 volumes of case materials, as the Judge Mirpasha Huseynov only allowed one working day for him to do so. Nonetheless, the Judge neither agreed to give more time to him, nor did he allow the presence of Fatullayev’s other lawyers. Moreover, the judge committed an unprecedented law violation by not allowing the journalist to finish his final speech and ruling to refuse the appeal.
On 20 April, 2007, Fatullayev was arrested in court and sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment by Yasamal District Court. While in prison, new charges were brought up against him on July 3, 2007 (Articles 214.3, 283.2.2, 213.2.2 of the Criminal Code) and he was sentenced to pre-trial detention. On 30 October, 2007, the Court of Grave Crimes found him guilty under said charges and sentenced him to 8 years and 3 months of imprisonment. Under Article 66.5 of the CC, the Judge partially combined the unserved part (2 years 3 months and 17 days) of the 2.5 years of imprisonment (set by Yasamal District Court) with 8 years 3 months and thus set out a 8.5 years of imprisonment for the journalist. The imprisonment term was calculated from the starting date of 3 July, 2007. On 6 July, 2010, Garadagh District Court sentenced him to 2.5 years in jail under a trumped-up narcotics charge;
In accordance with the ECHR judgment, the Supreme Court Plenum annulled 2.5 years of imprisonment set on 20 April, 2007, terminated the criminal case and ruled for Fatullayev’s immediate release. Of the 8 years and 3 months of imprisonment set on 30 October 2007, the Plenum upheld three months of imprisonment under Article 213.2.2 (tax evasion), and annuled the charges under Articles 214.1 and 283.2.2 of CC. The Plenum also reset the Court of Grave Crimes sentence under Interior Minister Ramil Usubov’s charge, i.e. the initial sentence of 2 years was replaced with 1 month in jail. However, the Plenum reset it and made it 2 years again. Moreover, the plenum added 3 months of imprisonment (under tax evasion charge) to this sentence and ruled for 2 years and 3 months of imprisonment.
Based on the aforementioned, IRFS once again states that the Azerbaijani government is not willing to release Eynulla Fatullayev and wants to transfer him from the investigative prison to the detention prison as soon as possible.