Journalist Gulu Maharramli Loses Appeal in Defamation Case

July 25th, 2016

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Baku Court of Appeal, chaired by Judge Vagif Mursagulov, heard the appeal filed by TV critic, Doctor of Philology, Professor at Baku State University, and Honored Journalist Gulu Maharramli against Ichtimai Television’s (ITV) Information Department Head Rauf Rajabov. Gulu Maharramli brought a private prosecution against Rauf Rajabov, seeking punishment of him under Articles 147 (libel) and 148 (insult) of the Criminal Code due to an article which the latter had published on 7news.az website about him. In Rauf Rajabov’s article, Gulu Maharramli was accused of plagiarism and misappropriation of public property by abusing his official position while he was working for AZTV. By its decision of May 25, 2016, Nasimi District Court refused to accept Gulu Maharramli’s defamation lawsuit for consideration. According to the court’s decision which Gulu Maharramli has appealed, Rauf Rajabov’s action did not constitute a crime. Recall that, in February of this year, Gulu Maharramli’s critical comments about AZTV’s leadership made during his interview on the 60th anniversary of TV broadcasting in Azerbaijan led to a major scandal between Maharramli and AZTV chairman Arif Alishanov. TV channels and other media outlets broadcasted and published materials against Gulu Maharramli. Arif Alishanov brought a private prosecution and a civil lawsuit against Gulu Maharramli on defamation charges.

At today’s hearing, Gulu Maharramli’s lawyer Ilham Ibadov noted that Gulu Maharramli, quite a well-known public figure, was targeted with offensive expressions such as “sycophant” and “ungrateful” and was accused of plagiarism and misappropriation of advertising revenues in Rauf Rajabov’s article. “According to the court decision, we allegedly failed to put forward any evidence to prove that Rauf Rajabov meant to insult Mr. Maharramli’s honor and dignity. The court should have accepted our lawsuit for consideration, ordered a psychiatric test and determined whether Rauf Rajabov can understand what he writes or not,” the lawyer said.

Rauf Rajabov’s lawyer Elnur Guliyev took the floor and said his client had not insulted anyone’s honor and dignity or slandered them. He said the court’s decision was well-grounded and had to be upheld. “There is no enmity between the parties. Both of them once worked for AZTV. Gulu Maharramli spoke highly of AZTV when he used to work there, but after his dismissal, he made disparaging statements about the staff and as a former member of that staff Rauf Rajabov felt offended by it,” Elnur Guliyev said.

After a brief deliberation, the court declared that the appeal was not granted.