Journalist Rasim Aliyev’s Murder Case: Questioning of Prosecution Witnesses Completed

Summary: Hearing 6 (April 27)

  • Testifying at the hearing, the prosecution witness Parviz Gabilzade said that he had no relation to the charge against Javid Huseynov. He said he knew that his cousin Elshan Ismayilov, who is accused in Rasim’s death, would go to Bayil to fight with him and he called his friend Samir Mustafayev to prevent it;

  • Due to the other two prosecution witnesses’ absence from the hearing, their witness statements provided to the investigating authority were read out with the consent of the parties to the proceedings, i.e. the public prosecutor and the lawyer;

  • Javid Huseynov’s lawyer Adam Mammadov filed a motion to interrogate Gabala Football Club manager Sabuhi Safiyarli and Zafar Sharifov, who had information concerning Rasim Aliyev death case, as additional witnesses. The judge sustained the motion.

Elman Rahimov, the judge presiding the Sabail district court, held a hearing on the criminal case of the football player Javid Huseynov, who is prosecuted in connection with journalist Rasim Aliyev’s death and is charged under the articles 307.1 (failure to inform about a serious crime, despite of being aware of its preparation or committal) and 307.2 (concealment of a serious crime without a prior consent) of the Criminal Code. Five men, including Javid Huseynov’s relative, are currently under the trial investigation in connection with this murder. According to the indictment, Kanan Madatov, Jamal Mammadov and Samir Mustafayev were charged with the Article 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim), while Elshan Ismayilov, who is the football player Javid Huseynov’s cousin, and Arif Aliyev were charged with Articles 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim) and 177.1 (theft) of the Criminal Code. On April 01, 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted five men finding them guilty of committing the crime of murder. The court sentenced Elshan Ismayilov to 13 years, Arif Aliyev to 12.5 years, Jamal Mammadov to 11 years, Kanan Madatov to 9 years, and Samir Mustafayev to 9 years in jail.

Interrogation of prosecution witnesses:

Firstly, witness Parviz Gabilzade testified at the hearing. Parviz Gabilzade is the son of the paternal aunt of Elshan Ismayilov, one of the persons accused of beating journalist Rasim Aliyev to death. Gabilzade testified that he had no relation to the charges against Javid Huseynov and confirmed his statement provided to the investigating agency. According to Gabilzade’s statement given to the investigating authority, his cousin Elshan Ismayilov phoned him at around 14.00-15.00 on August 08 2015 saying in an angry tone that “a guy has cursed my mother and I am going to Bayil,” and when he asked who and where had sworn at him, Elshan said that a guy had cursed him during a conversation on Facebook and on the phone. “I advised Elshan Ismayilov not to go after it. But Elshan hung up on me without saying anything. I could not go with Elshan as I had a guest at the time. I phoned my training mate Samir Mustafayev, who lives in Bayil settlement, to prevent the possible fight between Rasim and Elshan. I told Samir that someone had cursed my cousin Elshan and he was coming to Bayil for a fight. I gave Elshan’s cell-phone number to Samir and asked him to phone Elshan and prevent him from fighting. Samir promised to meet with Elshan. About an hour or two later, Samir phoned me and said that they went to the meeting with the curser (Rasim Aliyev is meant) as a group of five men, the guy that had sworn at Elshan got out of the car and approached and greeted them, instantly someone hit the curser and the guy fell to the ground, he (Samir) tried to keep others from beating him, he (Samir) personally did not hit anyone and ran after the men he had come with when they ran away, but did not get on the same car as them. After that, I dialed Elshan’s number but could not reach him. I wrote to Elshan on WhatsApp asking where he was. Elshan said he was at home. I did not ask Elshan more questions. The next day, I heard that the man by name Rasim, whom Elshan and the others had beaten, died and Elshan and the others were arrested,” Parviz Gabilzade said.

Next, the presiding judge read out the witness statement of Jamil Mammadov, who did not show up in court but had been interrogated by the investigating authority. According to Jamil Mammadov’s statement, “he heard about his cousin Rasim Aliyev’s death in the hospital from his family members on August 09, 2015.”

The witness statement of Aydin Mahmudov, another prosecution witness who failed to appear, was also read out. In his statement, Aydin Mahmudov noted that he was close friends with the late journalist Rasim Aliyev. “At around 16.00 on August 08 2015 when I was at the confectionery that I work for, Rasim Aliyev phoned me and said that he wanted to meet with me. I said I could not leave work and we could meet in the evening. Approximately 20-25 minutes later, our neighbor Asim phoned me and said that Rasim had been beaten in front of Bayil Market. I phoned Rasim, but his phone was out of reach. At around 22.00, I learned that Rasim was in the City Clinical Hospital #1 and I went there. At the hospital, I asked Rasim what had happened. He said that he interpreted Gabala Football Club player Javid Huseynov’s hand gesture during his interview with journalists as an obscene deed and had written a post about it on Facebook. Rasim said he afterwards talked to Javid Huseynov on the phone and it turned out that Javid had not made that gesture in a bad sense and they politely said goodbye to each other at the end of their phone conversation. After that, Rasim received a phone call from a person, who introduced himself as Javid’s cousin and invited him to meet and talk. Rasim initially did not want to meet, but the person by name Elshan insisted. Rasim went to the meeting and was beaten. Rasim also said that he had dropped his phone and purse where he was beaten. While Rasim was in the hospital, Javid Huseynov and Gabala Football Club manager Sabuhi came to see him. Javid told Rasim that he should have not gone to the meeting with those people. I told the manager Sabuhi that the phone and the purse had been left on the scene. Sabuhi gave me his phone number. After Rasim felt better I bid him goodbye and left. On August 09, manager Sabuhi phoned me saying that there were reports going around about Rasim’s death. I phoned Rasim’s father and he confirmed the information,” Aydin Mahmudov’s statement read.

In his statement, Aydin Mahmudov also mentioned that while at the hospital, Javid Huseynov talked to the doctor dealing with Rasim’s treatment and said that he would cover Rasim’s hospital expenses.

Lawyer’s motion:

Javid Huseynov’s lawyer Adam Mammadov filed a motion for interrogation of additional witnesses. The lawyer argued that Gabala FC manager Sabuhi Safiyarli, who according to the witness Aydin Mahmudov had come to the hospital, needed to come and testify. The lawyer requested that Sabuhi Safiyarli and Zafar Abbasov, who had information on the case, be questioned as witnesses. The court sustained the motion.

The next hearing was set for May 4, 12.20pm.

Background: On July 25, 2015, Rasim Aliyev received threatening messages on the social networking website Odnoklassniki. He was shown the images that he had shot while working for IRFS and was told that he would have to answer for them. On July 26, 2015, Rasim Aliyev appealed to Sabail District Police Office #8, informing them of the death threats. However, police failed to take action to protect his life.  On August 08, 2015, Rasim Aliyev was brutally assaulted by a group of 5-6 men, who took his phone and wallet. Rasim Aliyev drove to the emergency care in his car, from where he was taken to the city clinic #1.  Rasim Aliyev was admitted to hospital at about 16.45 on August 8. Following an examination, doctors said that he had four broken ribs. He received intravenous pain medication and was placed in a ward. The medical staff failed to change his clothes in the ward. At about 1 o’clock at night, Rasim’s family was informed that he had to undergo an operation. When his family arrived at the hospital twenty minutes later, the doctor told them that the operation was over and that Rasim was in intensive care. Shortly afterwards, they were told that Rasim had passed away. His body was sent to the Republican Hospital for expert examination.

Baku City Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal case under Article 126.3 of the Criminal Code (deliberate causing of serious harm to health, resulting in the death of the victim). Javid Huseynov’s cousin Elshan Ismayilov and four other men by names Jamal Mammadov, Arif Aliyev, Kanan Madatov and Samir Mustafayev were arrested. Javid Huseynov himself was detained for 3 months under articles 307.1 (failure to inform about a serious crime, despite of being aware of its preparation or committal) and 307.2 (concealment of a serious crime without a prior promise). Note that on August 6, Javid Huseynov was interviewed by journalists after the Gabala-Apollo (Cyprus) match of the third qualification round of Europe League. According to the media, Huseynov first called on the journalists, who criticized him for his obscene gesture made during the first leg match, to take a blood test, trying to indirectly hint that those, who criticized him, had Armenian blood in their vessels. Huseynov then acted disrespectfully towards a Cypriot journalist, who asked him why he raised a Turkish flag. Besides telling him in English that “Turks are my friends”, Huseynov made an obscene gesture to our colleague with his hand. The moment was captured by cameras[1].

Sharing this news on his Facebook page, Rasim Aliyev wrote the following words in his post: “I don’t want such an immoral and ill-mannered footballer, who cannot control himself, to represent me in European stadiums.” After that, Javid Huseynov and his relatives called Rasim Aliyev and Javid’s cousin invited him to a meeting. The moments of beating of Rasim Aliyev, who went to the meeting alone, were fully recorded by the security camera installed for the sake of public order.

Note that journalist Rasim Aliyev was a member of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety since the day of its establishment in 2006. After IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov was forced to go into hiding to avoid arbitrary criminal prosecution last August, Rasim Aliyev was elected the chairman of IRFS in the autumn of 2014 at a report-election conference. The Ministry of Justice was officially informed about the change of IRFS chairman. Although Aliyev was not actually working for IRFS as its projects were stopped due to the suspension of bank accounts, the confiscation of its equipment and documents and the sealing of its office, he remained the chairman of IRFS until his death.







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