Journalists Denied Access to Open Court Hearing

On 23 January, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Ahmad Guliyev held a preliminary hearing on the criminal case of Chairman of the Council of Elders of Nardaran Natig Karimov and Former Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijan Islamic Party Ingilab Ahadov, who are charged with treason.

According to the legislation, the preliminary court hearing held in a criminal case should be open to the public, and the decision of whether or not to conduct the proceedings behind closed doors should be taken at the end of the preliminary hearing. However, the court officials said the preliminary hearing would also take place behind closed doors as the defendants were charged under Article 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code. The journalists and individuals, who had come to watch the hearing, were not allowed into the courtroom.

At the closed court session, the defendants’ personal information was verified, and the case was set for trial. The trial will commence on 2 February, at 2 pm.

Background: Natig Karimov is accused of a long time secret collaboration with a foreign intelligence agency, fulfilling its orders, and spying to the detriment of state security, thereby committing treason. He had initially been placed in pre-trial detention after being indicted under Article 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code. However, Karimov was later released to house arrest.

Defendant Ingilab Ahadov is also accused of collaborating with a foreign intelligence agency, carrying out its instructions on a regular basis since 2011, and spying to the disadvantage of Azerbaijan’s state security, thus committing treason. He is also charged under Article 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code. The court has ordered his pre-trial detention.

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