Iron Cage Replaced with Glass-Encased Cage at Nardaran Trial

November 7th, 2016

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Summary: Hearing 33

  •  During his examination as a witness, Mashtaga resident Rasim Aslanov said he had been in front of Sabunchu District Police Department together with the others on 5 November 2015, but had not seen anyone throw rocks at the policemen;
  • Afig Shukurov, an officer for Sabunchu District Police Department, testified that he had been in front of Sabunchu District Police Department on 5 November 2015, and one of the stones thrown at them hit him in the forehead and he fainted;
  •  Nardaran resident Tural Allahverdiyev did not confirm his statement provided to the investigating authority;
  • Mehman Madatov, a junior inspector with the 15th police station of Sabunchu district, testified as a witness. He said he had not seen the detainees be physically pressured at the police station.

On 7 November 2016 Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov continued the hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement’s Chairman Taleh Bagirzade and other members of the Muslim Union Movement, charged under 21 articles of the Criminal Code including homicide, terrorism and incitement.

The APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli who is not a member of the Movement but yet accused of promoting their cause is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code respectively.

On 26 November 2015 an armed incident occurred between a group of believers and policemen in Nardaran settlement of Baku, during an operation conducted by the police. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several believers were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched in relation to the incident by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.

Fuad Gahramanli, who was not present during the incident, was arrested on 8 December, 2015. His lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that Fuad Gahramanli was arrested due to his Facebook posts and his case was merged with the criminal case of the people arrested over the Nardaran incidents.

At today’s hearing, the defendants were placed inside a glass-encased cage instead of an iron cage as in previous hearings. In the course of the hearing, the defendants gestured that the voices were barely audible through the glass and they could not hear what the judge was saying. Upon that, the judge turned on the microphone placed in front of him. The defendants also requested microphones for themselves, saying that their words could not be heard either. After that, a microphone was mounted on the exterior of the glass cage to a very narrow gap between the glass panels. “Mr. Judge, you speak audibly out there, but do not allow us [to make ourselves heard]. You are violating our rights. The gaps between the glass panels are too narrow. This is a violation of the law,” Taleh Bagirzade remarked.

Examination of witnesses:

Rasim Aslanov testified at the hearing as a witness. “After a prayer in Abulfaz Aga Mosque on 5 November 2015, I heard that Elchin Gasimov had been taken to the police station. We gathered outside the mosque and went to Sabunchu police department to ask why Elchin had been detained. Some of the elders went in and talked to the policemen. I was at the very front, but did not see rocks be thrown. Then there was uproar and they detained me. They tied my arms and took me to the police office,” the witness said.

Afig Shukurov, an officer for Sabunchu District Police Department, took the stand next. He introduced himself as a police officer and the driver of Sabunchu District Police Department chief Eldar Ilyasov. However, he said he was in civilian clothes during the incident of 5 November 2015. Shukurov said he had been at Sabunchu District Police Department for 10 to 15 minutes, when he heard the uproar and went out. According to him, one of the thrown stones hit him in the forehead and he fainted, and when recovering consciousness he found himself in the hospital of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The witness said he had received treatment in the hospital for 10 days.

Thereafter, Motabar Babayev, who had been sentenced to two and a half years in jail on charges of illegal possession of a weapon, testified as a witness. “I attended a gathering in Nardaran in memory of Imam Hussein in the evening of November 25, and returned to my home in Bilajari settlement in the morning of November 26. A few days later I received a phone call. They said there had been an incident in Nardaran. I went to Nardaran. I got stuck in there for 4 days and could not get out because of a stakeout. After four days, I left Nardaran and went to Sabirabad. In the evening, I was preparing to perform a prayer together with my father, when 2 or 3 police cars raided our house. They detained me and took me to Sabirabad Regional Police Department. They said I had uttered profanities in public and sentenced me to 10 days in jail. Police Chief Alifaga Kazimov and a person by name Mehman beat and insulted me. They wanted to take off my trousers, but I begged them to not do that. They wanted to foist weapon charges on me, but as I refused to agree, they threatened to plant heroin on our house and detain my father, too. After that, I was forced to agree. My father has never been in prison. He could not have endured it. They brought me to the Main Organised Crime Department. There, the police officers told me to say that the weapon had been given to me by Abbas Huseynov and Akbar on the instruction of Taleh Bagirzade. They suggested that if I did not want to write Taleh’s name, then I should write Akbar’s name, as he was dead after all. Then they said or I could write that Abbas had given [the weapon], because he would also die in a matter of days. They were torturing so [badly] and doing actions so offensive to human dignity that it would have been better if they had killed me. They threatened to rape me with a baton. On 29 December 2015, I was transferred to Kurdakhani detention centre. On 8 February 2016, officers of the Main Organised Crime Department came and told me to frame Haji Taleh in a face-off. I did not agree. The officers by name Karim and Islam had me sign the statement under duress,” the witness said.

Witness Babayev said that his investigation statement was not his own words and that he had signed it without reading it first.

Then, Tural Allahverdiyev was examined as a witness. “I signed the statement, but I do not know what was in there. I was detained and taken to the police office in connection with the incident that occurred in front of Sabunchu District Police Department on 5 November 2015. They told me that I had thrown rocks. But then they realised that it was not me who had thrown rocks, so they released me,” the witness noted.

Due to a contradiction between the witness’ current testimony and his investigation statement, the latter was read out. It turned out that his statement read that Abbas Huseynov had told him that Taleh Bagirzade would be the leader and the future president. Furthermore, according to his statement, Allahverdiyev had parted company with Abbas Huseynov and Taleh Bagirzade as they were talking of armament. Allahverdiyev did not confirm those statements, saying that he had not given such a statement.

Mehman Madatov, a junior inspector with the 15th police station of Sabunchu district, testified as a witness. Madatov noted that rocks hit him in the leg during the events of 5 November 2015. He said he had not seen the detainees be physically pressured at the police station.

After that, policeman Bahruz Hagverdiyev was questioned as a witness. He noted that he had arrived at Sabunchu District Police Department, took his police supplies and lined up behind the building. He said he had not seen anything.

Nardaran resident Ali Nurmammadov testified as a witness. He said he knew Taleh Bagirzade, but had not attended the gatherings where Bagirzade preached sermons.

In response to the lawyers’ question, Nurmammadov said he and other 11 witnesses had been taken to Sabunchu District Police Department and brought back after the postponed hearing, but he did not know why they had been taken there.

The witness’ investigation statement was read out. The statement read that Taleh Bagirzade wanted to commit a coup. The witness denied giving such a statement.

The next court hearing was set for November 11, 10.30am.