IRFS Chairman Mehman Huseynov’s Trial Postponed

On 10 February, Surakhani District Court held a preliminary hearing on the private prosecution complaint filed by Nasimi District Police Department chief Musa Musayev against IRFS Chairman and prominent blogger Mehman Huseynov.

Members of the public and the media were denied access to the hearing presided over by Judge Jeyhun Gadimov. The reason cited for not allowing the people, who had come to observe the trial, into the courtroom was the lack of vacant seats. Those, who wanted to watch the proceedings, were left at the door of the court building.

Following the hearing, blogger Mehman Huseynov said that at the hearing the judge first wanted to establish his identity. “The judge asked me whether I was Huseynov Mehman Rafig oglu. I replied by saying ‘I am starting to suspect I am not because I have not had an identity card or any other document for three years and 6 months now’. The Ministry of Internal Affairs tells me that it has been erased from the system. I told the judge that he had to identify it somehow himself whether I was Mehman Huseynov because I might be a look-alike of Mehman Huseynov,” the blogger said.

The blogger further stated that he had rejected the lawyer assigned to him at the state expense.

Mehman Huseynov noted that the charges filed against him were related to his blogging activity. “This is for intimidating and putting pressure on me,” Huseynov said.

Blogger’s lawyer, Elchin Sadigov in turn, pointed out that the private prosecution case had to be considered by Nasimi District Court according to territorial jurisdiction, not by Surakhani District Court. “The private prosecution complaint is groundless. I have filed a motion even with the administrative office to refuse to accept the private prosecution complaint about consideration. Even the private prosecution complaint itself repeatedly stresses that Mehman Huseynov made his public speech in front of Nasimi District Court [building]. Therefore, the case should also be examined by Nasimi District Court,” the lawyer remarked.

Lawyer Elchin Sadigov further touched on the denial of access to the courtroom for those who had come to observe the hearing. “There were only 7-8 seats in the courtroom. In view of this, we will file a motion to let the people, who will come to watch the next hearing, into the courtroom,” Sadigov said.

The lawyer then added that despite the defence’s readiness for the hearing, the court postponed the hearing until 17 February, 10.30 am, to avoid violation of Mehman Huseynov’s right of defence.

The lawyer had previously stated that he received a copy of the private prosecution complaint on 9 February, a day before the scheduled hearing date.

Background: Mehman Huseynov was detained in the evening hours on 9 January. He was released after being convicted and fined AZN 200 under Article 535.1 (disobedience to a legal requirement of the police) of the Administrative Violations Code. Following the hearing, Huseynov told journalists that he was harassed for his professional activities and had been tortured by the police officers.

Following this interview, the Ministry of Internal Affairs filed a petition with the Prosecutor General’s Office, noting that Mehman Huseynov had made baseless allegations in his press statements such as his abduction by the police, illegal restriction of his freedom, and his subjection to torture including physical pain and mental suffering, in order to deceive the public and to undermine the reputation of the police.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs has filed a petition with the Prosecutor General’s Office of the country to give a legal assessment of Mehman Huseynov’s act of slandering the police by accusing them of a serious crime. Additional information on the results of the investigation will be published,” the Ministry’s statement read.

Mehman Huseynov says he has undergone medical examination in connection with his harassment and injuries sustained. “We filed a complaint with Baku City Prosecutor’s Office due to the tortures inflicted on me, but the prosecutor’s office declined to launch a criminal case in this connection,” Huseynov added.

Mehman Huseynov is the editor of the popular critical Facebook page Sancaq and the chairman of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety.

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