➢ Attesting witness Ruslan Teymurov failed to answer the lawyer’s questions at the hearing;
➢ Witness Jeyhun Babayev said they had given money to the journalist.
On 10 March, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Eldar Mikayilov held another hearing on the criminal case of Jam.az website editor, journalist Fikrat Faramazoglu.
The witness Ruslan Teymurov was questioned at the hearing. According to the witness, he was meeting with his friend outside the Gilavar restaurant in 2016 when police officers approached and asked him to be an attesting witness. After that, he, victim Mehman Hasanov and the officers got in two cars and drove to Narimanov district. There, Mehman Hasanov got off, went somewhere and returned. They then drove towards the 20 January metro station. There, he saw Hasanov give Faramazoglu the banknotes, the serial numbers of which had been pre-recorded by officers. Thereafter, the police officers went up and detained Faramazoglu. The abovementioned money was found on him during a personal search. According to the witness, later they inspected Faramazoglu’s house in his presence. During the inspection, a laptop was seized from the apartment. And, afterwards they went to the Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD), where a search record was compiled.
Journalist Fikrat Faramazoglu accused the witness of lying. He denied receiving money from anyone and said no laptop was seized during the house search. Faramazoglu pointed out that one of the witnesses said his alleged receipt of money and detention by police officers took 3 minutes, while the other witness said it took 1 minute. The journalist added that the other attesting witness, who had been questioned at the previous hearing, had not participated in the inspection of the house at all.
Afterwards, the attesting witness was cross-examined by lawyers. He noted that Faramazoglu had confessed everything in his statement. However, journalist’s lawyer Javad Javadov said the attesting witness was lying, as the statement lacked any confessional information. The lawyer further cited the protocol on the taking of material evidence as mentioning that the journalist had provided a letter of consent for the inspection of his apartment. “You said the giving of money to Faramazoglu and his detention took 1 minute. And where did he write the letter of consent, in the middle of the street,” the lawyer asked. The attesting witness could not answer this question.
A dispute occurred when questions were asked about Ogtay Aliyev, the lawyer assigned to the journalist at the state expense during the phase of investigation. Lawyer Elchin Sadigov asked the attesting witness to describe the lawyer’s appearance, but the witness said he did not remember.
Next, Jeyhun Babayev testified as a witness. He said he had a cordial relationship with Mehman Hasanov, the victim in the case. The witness noted that he was a regular customer of the Antalya Restaurant owned by Hasanov. Hasanov had asked him to follow the Jam.az website on a regular basis and print out any articles about his restaurant and bring to him. Babayev said the journalist described the family restaurant as a brothel in the articles published on the website as of 23 February. According to the witness, Mehman Hasanov asked the journalist to delete the articles about his restaurant from the website in his presence, but the journalist demanded money for that. “He asked for AZN 1,000 for the first months and AZN 2,000 for the subsequent months,” Babayev said. According to the witness’ account, Hasanov gave AZN 1,000 to Faramazoglu, but did not give him any money in the next months. Babayev also stated that they had tried to record the journalist’s voice during the second meeting, but failed to do that because of the poor voice recording functionalities of his Samsung cell-phone.
Faramazoglu replied that they had tried to do that voice recording to blackmail him with.
Lawyer Javad Javadov asked the witness whether those articles had been deleted from the website. The witness said they had not. “If the money was given for deletion of the article, why is it still there,” the lawyer asked. The judge ruled out the question.
“If you are not Hasanov’s friend or anything, why did he ask you to have the articles deleted and give the money in your presence,” the lawyer asked. “I am his customer, that’s why,” the witness replied.
Faramazoglu accused the witness of perjury. “He is one of Mehman Hasanov’s employees. Had he been telling the truth, he would have spoken in a normal way. He just recited the lines in the search record. As for the articles, they were posted earlier than 23 February,” the journalist said.
The next hearing was set for 17 March, 4 pm.
Background: Fikrat Faramazoglu was arrested on 30 June 2016. He is charged under Article 182 (extortion) of the Criminal Code. On 2 July 2016, Narimanov district Court ordered his pre-trial detention.