Judge Expels Two Journalists from Courtroom in Nardaran Trial

On 1 May, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Zeynal Aghayev resumed the proceedings in the criminal case of theologian Zulfugar Mikayilov, Elman Aghayev, Faig Allahverdiyev, Mehman Guliyev, Mehman Mammadov, Eldar Bunyatov, Elkhan Hasanov, Mubariz Ibrahimov, Ali Huseynov, Ramil Seyfullayev, Ruzi Ismayilov and Jabir Aliyev.

Today’s hearing on the case of the Muslim Union Movement members was marked by a tension.

During the testimony of Elman Agayev, an employee of the Main Organised Crime Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, correspondent of Vetenugrunda.az website Arzu Abdulla faced a harsh reaction from the judge when objecting to the inaudibility of the witness’ voice in the courtroom. The judge ordered that the journalist be removed from the courtroom.

Rovshan Ahmadli, the editor-in-chief of the website, was also ordered to be expelled when objecting to his colleague’s removal. Both journalists were thrown out of the courtroom. The judge passed a special decision on taking measures against Rovshan Ahmadli and noted that the decision would be sent to the Press Council for execution.

The defendants objected to the two journalists’ removal from the courtroom. They demanded that media presence in the proceedings be ensured, otherwise, the proceedings be postponed.

Haji Zulfugar Mikayilov told the judge that he had done it on purpose and turning towards the wall, he warned that the trial would not proceed unless the journalists returned to the courtroom. The hearing did not make it to the end. The trial will be resumed on 8 May, at 11 am.

Background: Z. Mikayilov and others are charged under Articles 214.2.1 (terrorism, committed on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons, by an organised group or a criminal community (criminal organisation)), 214.2.3 (terrorism, committed with use of fire-arms or objects used as a weapon), 214-2 (open calls for terrorist acts), 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as for violence against citizens), 228.4 (illegal acquisition, selling or carrying of a gas weapon, cold steel, as well as a throwing weapon by an organised group, except for places where carrying of a cold steel is an accessory of a national suit or is connected to hunting), 278 (actions aimed at violent seizure or retention of power in infringement of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as aimed at violent change of the constitutional grounds of the state), 279.1 (creation of armed formations or groups, which are not provided for by the legislation of the Azerbaijan Republic, participation in their creation and activity, and supplying them with weapons, ammunition, explosives, military engineering or military equipment), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people), and 283.2.3 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by an organised group) of the Criminal Code.

Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade was arrested in an operation conducted in Nardaran on 26 November 2015. Under Baku Grave Crimes Court’s verdict of 25 January 2017, Taleh Bagirzade and his 17 co-defendants were sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison. T. Bagirzade’s deputy Elchin Gasimov and his 11 co-defendants’ case is also currently pending before the court.

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