IRFS is concerned over pressure on monitors at a trial

September 11th, 2012
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) is concerned about the expulsion of a monitor and a media representative from the trial of a group of citizens arrested in connection with Guba riot (took place on March 1, 2012) by the judge of the Guba City Court, Zamin Tahirov; the monitor and journalist were allowed to attend the trial only in the second half of the day.

Local journalist Jamil Mammadli and Aftandil Mammadov, the regional representative of the Azerbaijan National Committee of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, were twice expelled from trials for two consecutive days and allowed to attend the hearing only in the second half of the day. Moreover, the court prohibited audio and video filming and even photographing in the trial.
IRFS considers this action as the government pressure on independent media and civil society, and questions the transparency of the proceedings.
IRFS requests the Azerbaijani government to ensure the presence of the media and civil society representatives during the entire trial.
Background
The online dissemination of a video in which Rauf Habibov (then chief of Guba Executive Power) insulted Guba citizens, triggered a riot in Guba on March 1st. The citizens set Habibov’s house on fire which followed by clashes between people and the police. After the protests president Ilham Aliyev dismissed Rauf Habibov from his post. On March 13th Khayal TV executive director Vugar Gonagov and Khayal TV chief editor Zaur Guliyev were arrested, along with 20 other Guba residents. The trial of 8 detainees is currently underway in Guba City Court.