Journalists Denied Access to Ali Insanov’s Public Trial

> The former minister and his lawyers rejected the charges and asked for his acquittal, but the motion was not granted;

> Ali Insanov: My enemies think I will be broken if they keep me in prison longer, but it is impossible to break me.

On 7 April, Garadag District Court held a preliminary hearing on the criminal case against jailed former health minister Ali Insanov. Media representatives were not granted access to the courtroom, although the preliminary hearing presided over by Judge Rashad Mustafayev was held in open court.

The court bailiff and security police officer behaved rudely towards the media representatives and prevented their entrance into the courtroom claiming that it was full. Only two of the former minister’s relatives were able to enter the courtroom, while about fifteen others remained outside. It turned out that the seats in the courtroom were occupied by unknown people.

Major of Justice Anar Mammadov, who has been recognised as a victim in the case, attended the hearing. Ali Insanov is accused of causing him injury.

Ali Insanov’s lawyers Agaveyis Shahverdi and Togrul Babayev lodged a motion to discontinue the criminal case. Agaveyis Shahverdi noted that Ali Insanov had not committed any crime, and had been framed 58 days before the expiry of his sentence. “This is an unsuccessfully false accusation aimed at preventing Ali Insanov’s release from prison,” the lawyer said.

Commenting on the motion, Ali Insanov also rejected the accusations and noted that he actually did not want to come to the court but had been brought involuntarily. “I believe that there is no need to come to a trial on such false charges. All of them are slanderous, and I reject all the charges. I am well aware of those who have enmity against me. You are so bloodthirsty. Is it not enough for you to suck my blood? The road of life is long. My enemies think I will be broken if they keep me in prison longer, but it is impossible to break me. The things that are happening to me are like a daydreamer sitting by the river and waiting for it to run out of the water. Go tell the daydreamers that my patience will not be exhausted even if they sentence me to 100 years,” Insanov said.

Ali Insanov noted that following his arrest in 2005, he had been held in solitary confinement in the detention centre of the Ministry of National Security (MNS) for one and a half year and later in harsh conditions in the so-called death block #5 of Bayil prison. “I did not violate the rules despite being held in the cell in 40℃. In Prison #13, there was no central heating and I stayed in frosting -3℃ but did not resist. How is it that I resisted when 58 days were left before my release,” Insanov asked.

Insanov went on to speak about the plots devised against him and underlined that he had known about each of those plots beforehand.

At the end of his speech, the former minister said the persons, who had testified against him in this criminal case, had been ‘awarded’. “The justice official, who framed me, has been appointed the chief. A poor inmate, who also framed me, has been released under the pardon decree. This Anar Mammadov will also probably get some promotion,” he noted.

The motions lodged by Ali Insanov’s lawyers were not granted. The main hearing was set for 12 April.

Note that, according to the Azerbaijani legislation, preliminary court hearings must be open to the public in all circumstances. The legislation also guarantees journalists’ participation in an open court hearing. Recall that, during the review of Ali Insanov’s criminal case in Baku Court of Appeal in 2014 in accordance with the European Court’s decision, the former minister severely criticised the authorities and it was covered by the media. At subsequent hearings, Ali Insanov was kept inside an enclosed glass dock and was allowed to speak only through a microphone controlled by the judge. His microphone was turned off whenever he wanted to express opinions critical of the authorities or mention the names of persons in charge of the country. It is very likely that denying journalists access to today’s preliminary hearing has

also been motivated by the concerns that Insanov might express critical thoughts and the media, in turn, might publish them.

Ali Insanov, who has been in prison since 2005, faced a new criminal case launched against him in October 2016 just 58 days shy of his release. According to allegations, a medication with psychotropic ingredients has been found on the former minister and he has beaten a prison officer.

He has been charged under Articles 234.1 (illegal purchase or possession of narcotics or psychotropic substances in a quantity exceeding personal consumption limits, without the intent to sell), 315.2 (resistance, involving use of force not dangerous to life or health, against a representative of authority performing his official duties) and 317-2.1 (preparation, storage, carrying, transportation or use of prohibited items by a person held in prisons or detention centres – where the same acts are committed repeatedly) of the Criminal Code.

The former minister does not accept the charges and maintains that he has been framed under the government’s instructions in order to be kept in jail.

Ali Insanov was arrested on charges of a coup attempt on 19 October 2005. But later, he stood trial on charges related to economic offences and was sentenced to 11 years in jail. The complaint submitted to the European Court in connection with this case was granted in 2013. The decision took effect on 14 June 2013. The Plenum of the Supreme Court considered the European Human Rights Court’s (EHRC) decision regarding Ali Insanov. According to the Plenum’s decision, the Appeal and Supreme Courts’ decisions on Ali Insanov were revoked, while the decision of the court of the first instance was not changed and Insanov was not released. The case was referred to Baku Court of Appeal for reconsideration, but the court upheld the judgment.

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