On March 14th, the preventive investigation group held a meeting on the case of Khural newspaper editor-in-chief, Avaz Zeynalli, at the Media Center.
They noted that the Department of Taxes fined the Khural newspaper 11.000 AZN. “The Department of Taxes argues that the newspaper had been published daily since 2008, but in reality it was only issued daily for one month. Although price of the newspaper is 23 kopecks, they calculated it as 40 kopecks per copy and issued a 6000 AZN fine. A 5000 AZN fine was issued for not paying the tax on time”, said Afghan Mukhtarli, a member of the investigation group.
On January of 2012, Narimanov District Court partially granted the lawsuit filed by Baltika LLC demanding 150,000 AZN in compensation form Zeynalli, by sentencing the newspaper to a 50,000 AZN fine. Journalists were not invited to this proceeding. “The information about Baku-Baltika LLC has been prepared according to the complaints by the company’s employees and the video files they presented”, said Nizami Hasanli, a correspondent of the newspaper.
The investigation group decided that the information about the Baku-Baltika LLC must be examined, and an independent auditor needs to assess the tax penalties. The group will appeal to the MP Gular Ahmadova for a meeting.
On October 28th 2011, Nasimi District Court sentenced the editor-in-chief of the Khural newspaper, Avaz Zeynalli to 3 months detention, later extending it for another 3 months. The Anti-Corruption Office opened a criminal case against him under Article 311.3 and 311.3.4 (demanding bribe). The editor-in-chief was arrested by the lawsuit of the MP Gular Ahmadova.
The journalists and human rights defenders decided to appeal to the General Prosecutor’s Office and Penitentiary Service to meet Avaz Zeynalli.
Khural was published weekly from October 2002, and daily from September 20th, 2011. The property of the newspaper was confiscated by bailiffs on October 19 following its failure to pay a total of 19,000 AZN in court-issued fines to the head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, Mass Media State Support Fund Executive Director Vugar Safarli, and others. The newspaper was prevented from publishing on October 21st, when local printing houses refused to print the newspaper. On October 28th, Khural editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli was detained by officers from the Anti-Corruption Department and sentenced to three months of pre-trial detention. His arrest was based on a complaint filed with the Anti-Corruption Department by ruling YAP MP Gular Ahmadova. A criminal case was launched against him under Articles 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) and 311.3.4 (taking a bribe in conjunction with threats) of the Criminal Code by the Fight Against Corruption Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office.
Nasimi District Court sentenced Avaz Zeynalli to 3 months in jail, and on January 17th his term was extended for three months.