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Journalist Rasim Aliyev Murder Trial: Judge Rejects Motion for Additional Witnesses
Summary: Hearing 6 (February 2)
Ø Anar Mukhtarov, who testified as a prosecution witness, said that he had seen 5 people assault Rasim Aliyev in front of Bayil Market and that one of them, Elshan Ismayilov, had taken a black wallet and car keys from the ground after the incident;
Ø Another witness, the late journalist’s friend Asim Samadov said that he and Rasim Aliyev had agreed to meet for tea on August 8, 2015, but before going to the tea house he heard that Rasim had been assaulted;
Ø Elnur Suleymanov, who testified as a witness, said that he had been shopping for clothes at a menswear store near the Bayil Market when he heard people fighting; as he went out, he saw Rasim Aliyev break free from the men beating him and run away;
Ø Gabilzade Parviz, the cousin of defendant Elshan Ismayilov, testified as a witness, stating that during a phone conversation Elshan had told him that he was going to meet with Rasim Aliyev, because Rasim had insulted him. He said he had asked his friend Samir Mustafayev to meet with Elshan in Bayil and stop him from getting into a fight;
Ø Lawyer Fariz Namazli, who represents Rasim’s family, filed a motion for the interrogation of additional witnesses, possessing relevant information. However, the judge denied the motion, deeming it groundless.
Baku Grave Crimes Court, chaired by judge Eldar Ismayilov, continued the hearing on the criminal case into the murder of the former IRFS chairman, journalist Rasim Aliyev, who died in hospital after being assaulted on August 2015. Five men are standing trial in relation to the journalist’s murder. Under the indictment, Kanan Madatov, Jamal Mammadov and Samir Mustafayev are charged under Article 126.3 (deliberately causing serious harm to health entailing imprudence causing the death of a victim), while Elshan Ismayilov, who is the footballer Javid Huseynov’s cousin, and Arif Aliyev are charged under Articles 126.3 (deliberately causing serious harm to health entailing imprudence causing the death of a victim) and 177.1 (theft) of the Criminal Code.
Today’s hearing continued with the questioning of prosecution witnesses. As has been the case in previous hearings, independent journalists and observers were denied access to the hearing, allegedly because the courtroom was full.
Testimonies of prosecution witnesses:
Anar Mukhtarov, who was questioned as a witness, testified that he had been doing home repairs in a 4-room apartment on the third floor of a residential building near the Bayil Market every day from 10am to 6pm since July 2015. On August 8, 2015, at around 16.00-17.00, he went to the Tovuz Market located to the right of the building’s entrance to buy water. On his way back to the apartment, he saw 5 youths (meaning the accused) punch and kick another young man (Rasim Aliyev) at a distance of 5-10 meters on the sidewalk. After the first blow Rasim Aliyev fell to the ground and the men beating him continued to kick him while he lay on the ground, but [Anar Mukhtarov] was afraid to approach them. When he reached the doorway of the building where he was working, Rasim Aliyev stood up and ran to the opposite side of the road, and [the accused persons] ran in another direction. As the men ran past him, he saw that Elshan Ismayilov, who had hit Rasim Aliyev first, was holding a set of black car keys in his right hand and a black wallet in his left hand. He tossed the keys near the door of the building and took the wallet with him. Anar Mukhtarov testified that all of the five men (the accused persons Elshan Ismayilov, Kanan Madatov, Jamal Mammadov, Arif Aliyev and Samir Mustafayev) had participated in the beating of Rasim Aliyev.
Another prosecution witness, Asim Samadov, testified that he worked at a men’s barber shop near school #203 in Bayil settlement. He said that Rasim Aliyev used to get his hair cut at his barbershop, and that they had become friends. “On August 8, 2015, at around 16.00, Rasim arrived in his Hyundai car and asked if I had time to cut his hair. Rasim was wearing black sunglasses and had a black iPhone and a wallet in his hand. After sitting at the barbershop for a couple of minutes, Rasim said he was going to have tea with some people at the teahouse opposite to the Maritime Administration in Bayil settlement. Rasim suggested that I go with him. I told Rasim that I would be busy for 5-10 minutes. Rasim said he would meet with those persons near Bayil market and left to meet them. He told me to come to the teahouse opposite to the Maritime Administration. When I finished my work after nearly 15-20 minutes, Rasim’s mother, Teyfura Aliyeva came into the barbershop and asked about her son. I told Rasim’s mother that Rasim had gone to meet with some people. Rasim’s mother told me that they had attacked her son in front of the Bayil market. I immediately went to the teahouse that Rasim had been supposed to go to, but I did not see him there. Then I went to the front of Bayil Market and asked the people nearby whether there had been a fight; I learned that a fight had taken place there.”
Elnur Suleymanov, who was interrogated as a witness, testified that he had been shopping for clothes at a menswear store near Bayil Market at around 17.00 on August 8, 2015, when he heard screaming outside. He immediately went out and saw Rasim Aliyev break free from 3-4 men and run away clutching his side. As Rasim escaped, the others also ran away. After they ran away, Elnur saw Rasim’s sunglasses and his left sneaker on the ground. He took them, and went in the direction that Rasim had gone. Rasim was sitting by the roadside and there were several people around him. Suleymanov said that one of the people helping Rasim was his uncle Revan, but he did not remember the others. He went up to Rasim and gave him the sneaker and sunglasses. After that, Rasim stood up, went to his car, sat inside for a while, and then drove off.
The cousin of defendant Elshan Ismayilov, Parviz Gabilzade, questioned as a witness, testified that at around 14.00-15.00 on August 8, 2015, his cousin Elshan Ismayilov phoned him and said angrily that a guy had cursed his mother and that he was going to Bayil. When Parviz asked who and where this cursing had taken place, Elshan said a guy had cursed him during their Facebook correspondence and on the phone. “I advised Elshan Ismayilov to not go, but Elshan hung up on me without saying anything. I couldn’t go with Elshan, as I had a guest at the time. I phoned my football training buddy Samir Mustafayev, who lives in Bayil settlement, with the aim of preventing the potential fight between Rasim and Elshan. I told Samir that someone had cursed my cousin Elshan and that he was coming to Bayil to have a fight. I gave Elshan’s cell phone number to Samir and asked him to call Elshan and stop him from getting into a fight. Samir said he would meet with Elshan. Nearly 1-2 hours later, Samir phoned me and said that they had gone to a meeting with the guy who had cursed Elshan (i.e. Rasim Aliyev) in a group of five men. The guy (Rasim Aliyev) got out of his car, approached and greeted them, and then suddenly someone hit him and he fell to the ground. He (Samir) tried to stop those who wanted to hit Rasim but did not hit anyone himself. Then he (Samir) ran away with the guys he had come with, but did not get into the same car as them. After that, I phoned Elshan, but his phone was switched off. I wrote him a WhatsApp message and asked where he was. Elshan said he was at home. I did not ask him many questions. The next day, I heard that Rasim, the guy whom Elshan and the others had beaten, had died and that Elshan and the others had been arrested,” said Parviz Gabilzade.
Motion by the lawyer for the victim’s family:
The lawyer for the victim’s family, Fariz Namazli, filed a motion to interrogate f additional witnesses. The lawyer said that the names of some of the people questioned during the preliminary investigation were not included in the list of witnesses on the bill of indictment, despite the importance of their testimonies. “It is important for the court to hear the testimonies of the late journalist’s hospital ward mate Ramil Gurbatov, Clinical Medical Center Surgery Department ultrasonographer Arzu Rustamova, Professor of the Department of Surgery of Azerbaijan Medical University Saday Aliyev, Docent of the Department of Surgery of Azerbaijan Medical University Babak Zeynalov, Head of the department of radiology and diagnostics of the Clinical Medical Center Tamara Hajiyeva, surgeon of the First Surgery Department of the Clinical Medical Center Ali Ismayilov, Head of the Anesthesiology Department of the Clinical Medical Center Fatali Fataliyev, doctor on duty of the same department Elnara Niftaliyeva, nurses Sudaba Tagiyeva and Zohra Gaziyeva, and doctor of the Department of Surgical Intensive Care of the Clinical Medical Center Fazil Aliyev. All of these people were interrogated during the preliminary investigation, and their testimonies will help determine when Rasim Aliyev was operated on, and whether his death was caused the injuries he had sustained, or whether he died during the operation. We also want the court to hear the testimonies of Mehman Huseynov, Aydin Mahmudov and Mammadali Aliyev, who last saw Rasim Aliyev at the hospital,” noted the lawyer in his motion.
The judge Eldar Ismayilov denied the motion.
The hearing will continue on February 09, at 10.30am.