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On June 19, Baku Court of Appeal continued appeal proceeding in the case of Nijat Aliyev, editor-in-chief of Azadxeber.net website and other believers. The process was presided over by Judge Mirzali Abbasov.
Nijat Aliyev’s lawyer Yalchin Imanov noted that lawyers of the defendants made a defensive plea. They asked for acquittal of their clients, reasoning that their clients’ acts lacked criminal elements.
The trial will continue on June 25.
Note that the defense’s cassation appeal filed earlier, against the preliminary hearing by the Appeal Court was not granted by the Supreme Court.
Background: Nijat Aliyev was arrested on 20 May 2012, just a few days before Eurovision Song Contest Finals, on charges of drug possession.
In January of this year Aliyev faced three new criminal charges: illegal distribution of religious literature; appealing for seizure of power by force; and incitement to national, racial or religious hostility and hatred, as well as discrimination against citizens.
Aliyev was sentenced to ten years in prison on December 9, 2013.
Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.