On November 13th a court hearing was held on the case of azadxeber.org editor-in-chief Nijat Aliyev in the Baku Court on Grave Crimes, under chairmanship of Judge Zeynal Agayev.
The journalist’s attorneys made a speech in the hearing. Attorney Yalchin Imanov said the charges brought against the journalist are ungrounded and the investigation conducted into his case shows that the case is politically motivated.
“Nijat Aliyev was subjected to brutal torture ni police station. His two teeth were broken and ear was injured. After 9 months had passed since his detention, Nijat faced new and much graver charges. Expert’s failure to respond to the defense lawyers’ questions, the court’s failure to allow defense witnesses to testify and denial of defense motions once again showed that the judiciary system acts the way the executive power dictates” said the lawyer.
Abel Bayramov, the second attorney of the journalist, the charges filed against Nijat Aliyev and the other persons arrested together with him lack basis.
“These charges were proved neither by preliminary investigation nor by the court. Nijat Aliyev was made to sign a false affidavit under physical and psychological torture. The charges were based on the opinion of the expert, but when the expert testified in trial it turned out that he didn’t fully understand the essence of the case and could not justify his opinion. Nijat Aliyev must univocally be acquitted” said Abel Bayramov.
The next hearing on the journalist’s case will take place on November 21, 11 am.
Background: Nijat Aliyev was arrested on 20 May 2012, just a few days before Eurovision Song Contest Finals, on charges of drug possession. On 26 January 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 188.8.131.52 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media). His pretrial detention was extended for two months by Nasimi District Court on February 15.
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.