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Jailed editor of Khural newspaper Avaz Zeynalli filed a civil lawsuit with the Administrative Economic Court #1 against Express Service LLC publishing company, over alleged non-fulfillment of contract obligations resulting in a financial damage to the newspaper. The information was provided to the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) on May 21th, by Zeynalli’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov.
According to Sadigov, Zeynalli is demanding that the Express Service redress 150,000 AZN to Khural for financial damage suffered due to its illegal refusal to print the newspaper, and pay another 200,000 AZN penalty for moral damages. In his lawsuit, Zeynalli also stated that Express Service and other publishing companies were under political pressure when they refused to print the Khural newspaper; therefore he requested the court to issue a resolution considering this case an interference with freedom of expression.
Background: Avaz Zeynalli was arrested on October 28, 2011 following a lawsuit brought by former MP Gular Ahmadova. The Anti-Corruption Office launched a criminal case against Zeynalli under article 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) and article 311.3.4 (extortion) of the Criminal Code. Zeynalli was later charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion). On 13 February 2013 the public prosecutor requested 11 years imprisonment for Zeynalli. On 12 March 2013 the Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced the journalist to nine years in prison. The decision was upheld by Baku Appeals Court.
A number of local and international human rights organizations strongly believe that the charges against Avaz Zeynalli are trumped-up and that he was arrested for his articles criticizing high-ranking state officials.