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On May 30th Shirvan City Appellate Court held a preliminary hearing on the appeal of xeber44.com news portal’s editor Araz Guliyev and other arrested believers against April 5th decision of Lankaran Grave Crimes Court. Judge Kamran Akbarov presided over the hearing.
The trial was held in absentia. Journalist’s lawyer Fariz Namazli filed a petition for partial reconsideration, indicating that journalist Araz Guliyev had no face-to-face confrontation with the persons recognized as victims. Guliyev says he does not know those persons. Therefore it is important that they are questioned at the trial. The petition was granted and the judicial review was scheduled for July 13, 11am.
It must be noted that after the hearing the journalist of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) was subjected to pressure by a court guard, who hindered her interview with Guliyev’s lawyer. The guard said that one, who wants to conduct filming in the court yard, must get permission from the local executive authority. Our colleague was allowed to go after getting registered as journalist in the clerical office of the court.
Background: Araz Guliyev was arrested on September 8th on charges of attempting to prevent an international folklore festival in Masalli region, and causing bodily harm to ordinary people and police officers. On December 11th the previous hooliganism charge against Guliyev was replaced by five new charges, under Article 228.1 (illegal possession of fire arms), Article 233 (violation of public order), Article 283.1 (inciting national, racial, ethnic or religious animosity and hostility), Article 315.2 (resistance and violence against a representative of the authority) and Article 324 (insulting the national flag or emblem of the Azerbaijan Republic) of the Criminal Code. On April 5, 2013 the Lankaran City Grave Crimes Court sentenced Guliyev to 8 years in jail.
Araz Guliyev rejects the charges, claiming that he was arrested for his journalistic and religious activities.