Journalists Denied Access to Lapshin’s Trial

July 3rd, 2017

Baku Grave Crimes Court continued the judicial proceedings on the criminal case of blogger Alexander Lapshin. Judge Alovsat Abbasov presided over the hearing.
Witnesses testified at the proceeding.
One of the witnesses, an internally-displaced person from Shusha, Eyyub Abdulazimov said he knew Lapshin for his articles in the media. “I have real estates in Shusha. These lands are my ancestral homeland. However, Lapshin went to Karabakh and described my native land as an independent Armenian state. These territories belong to Azerbaijan. Armenians have occupied my property in Shusha. No one has the right to violate Azerbaijan’s borders. For this reason, I am asking the court to hand down the appropriate punishment to Lapshin,” the witness said.
Witness Fakhraddin Safarov also said he had lived in Shusha until the city was invaded. He believes that Lapshin has harmed the dignity of all Azerbaijanis. He added that the blogger should have admitted his deeds. Next, the judge announced that Lapshin’s mother also wanted to testify at the proceeding. Her presence in the trial will be ensured at the next hearing. The proceedings will resume on 6 July.
Note that, several journalists and lawyers were denied access to the hearing. Namely, Turan Information Agency reporter Farid Gahramanov, freelance journalist Tatyana Kryuchkina and lawyer Samira Agayeva were not allowed into the court building. At the end of the hearing, the responsible court officers justified the refusal of access by the lack of empty seats in the courtroom. However, the journalists responded that other journalists and embassy representatives, who were with them, had been allowed to enter the court building, but the court guards closed the door to them and refused to answer their questions.
Note that, Lapshin, who holds citizenships of various countries, was detained by Belarusian law enforcement agencies in Minsk on 15 December 2016 and extradited to Azerbaijan on 7 February 2017, after he was declared internationally wanted due to the charges of crossing Azerbaijan’s state border illegally and making explicit calls for breaking up the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which had been brought against him by the Serious Crimes Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan.
Lapshin is charged under Articles 281.2 (explicit appeals against the state) and 318.2 (illegal border crossing) of the Criminal Code.