Journalist Khadija Ismayil’s Appeal Rejected

October 7th, 2016

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On October 7, Baku Appeal Court denied investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil’s appeal concerning the reduction of her sentence with respect to the illegal entrepreneurship charge.

On 08 August 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva heard Khadija Ismayil’s application to decriminalise her punishment handed down under Article 192 (illegal business) of the Criminal Code and reduced Khadija Ismayil’s 3.5-year suspended sentence to 2 years and 3 months, but the probationary period remained 5 years.
Journalist’s lawyers Fariz Namazli and Javad Javadov filed an appeal against the verdict of Baku Grave Crimes Court.

Speaking at the appellate hearing, lawyer Fariz Namazli said the disposition of Article 192 of the Criminal Code was concretised after the amendments made to the legislation took effect on 1 June 2016. “If previously Article 192 referred to “acting without state registration,” after the amendment, it concretely refers to the entrepreneurial activity carried out without tax registration or without a license. Journalism is not a licensed type of activity, and the illegal business charge filed against Khadija Ismayil stated that she had been working for a foreign media outlet (Radio Liberty) without being accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, and made income in the amount of 79,480 AZN during the years 2010-2014. I request that Khadija Ismayil be cleared of the punishment imposed under the illegal business charge,” the lawyer said during his courtroom speech.

The lawyer also filed a motion to send an inquiry to the Constitutional Court to ascertain that following the said amendment, Article 192 (illegal business) of the Criminal Code referred specifically to carrying out activities without tax registration. The motion was not granted.

During his speech at the hearing, the public prosecutor suggested that the appeal be rejected and the judgment of Baku Grave Crimes Court be upheld.

The court dismissed the appeal and upheld Baku Grave Crimes Court’s judgment.

Background: Khadija Ismayil was arrested on 5 December 2014. She was initially charged under article 125 of the Criminal Code (inciting to suicide). Later, she faced new charges under articles 179 (misappropriation), 192.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.2 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of authority). On September 1, the court acquitted Khadija Ismayil of the charge filed under Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic (inciting to suicide). However, the court found Khadija Ismayil guilty under Articles 179.3.2 (misappropriation and waste on a large scale), 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.1 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of authority) and sentenced her to 7.5 years in jail and a 3-year ban from holding some public position or engaging in some public activities. The Court of Appeal upheld this verdict by its decision dated November 25, 2015. On May 25, 2016, the Supreme Court dropped the charges under Articles 179.3.2 (misappropriation of a large amount) and 308.2 (abuse of authority) of the Criminal Code against Khadija Ismayil, but sentenced her to a total of 3.5 years in jail and a 2-year ban from holding certain positions under Articles 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship) and 213.1 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code. In accordance with the court’s decision, Khadija Ismayil was conditionally released but will spend 5 years on probation