Judicial Investigation Completed in Trial of Critical Journalist Ganimat Zahid’s Relatives

June 3rd, 2016

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Summary: Hearing 10

 At the hearing, Rovshan Zahidov’s lawyer Tahir Khanaliyev filed a motion to obtain and examine the evidence confirming the violations committed during the pre-trial proceedings and determining the grounds for acquittal, and to question additional witnesses. The motion was rejected;
 The judge made a decision on the completion of the judicial investigation on the criminal case.

Baku Grave Crimes Court, under chairmanship of Judge Eldar Mikayilov, continued the hearing on the criminal case of Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov, who are arraigned on drug charges. Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov are relatives of Ganimat Zahid, the editor-in-chief of Azadliq newspaper and the host of the Azerbaijani Hour TV program who currently lives in exile in France. Rufat Zahidov is Ganimat Zahid’s nephew and Rovshan Zahidov is his cousin. Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov were arrested in July 2015, and are charged under Articles 234.4.1 (illegal manufacturing, processing, purchase, storage, transfer, transportation or selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances – on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons) and 234.4.3 (- in large amount) of the Criminal Code.

The presiding judge announced that all witnesses in the case had testified and the court was going to examine the documents. The judge enumerated the documents in the case file (expert reports, search protocols, etc.).

Lawyer’s motion:

Next, Rovshan Zahidov’s lawyer Tahir Khanaliyev filed a written motion to obtain and examine the evidence confirming the violations committed during the pre-trial proceedings and determining the grounds for acquittal. “At the stage of preliminary court hearing, I filed a motion requesting that along with the prosecution evidence the court also examine the evidence for the defense confirming the serious law violations committed during pretrial proceedings and the innocence of the accused person. It is a pity however that the motion was not granted in contravention of the requirements of legislation that judicial proceedings should be carried out based on the adversarial principle and the prosecution and the defense should have equal rights and opportunities to defend their position. It is determined by the circumstances of the case that the accused Rovshan Zahidov was arrested for political motives, i.e. to put pressure on his cousin Ganimat Zahid and to retaliate against him, and was indicted on the basis of false and inadmissible evidence. In order to realize this mission, they first called Rovshan Zahidov’s mobile phone numbers 0517893072 or 0555367370 from the phone number 0553041413 on July 20, 2015 and called him to Shamakhi city saying that they needed a builder, with an aim to completely isolate him and deprive him of all his rights and to extract illegal evidence under duress. Rovshan Zahidov came to Shamakhi city by bus and as soon as he got off the bus at the agreed place, police officers detained him and brought him to Shamakhi Regional Police Department (RPD),” the lawyer said.

“In order to verify the facts that Rovshan Zahidov was called and invited to Shamakhi city on July 20, 2015 and was illegally detained by police officers upon his arrival in Shamakhi city, I request you to send information requests to Azercell and Bakcell companies asking whether Rovshan Zahidov’s mobile phone numbers received a call from the phone number 0553041413 on July 20, 2015 and if received who was the owner of this number and then to question the owner of the number as a witness in relation to this matter. In order to verify the fact that Rovshan Zahidov was held in the detention center of Shamakhi RPD in isolation, devoid of all his rights and under duress, I request you to seek and examine Shamakhi RPD detention center’s meeting register and the camera recordings of the detention center concerning the said meeting and to question the accused person’s brother Zahidov Agasadig Agazahid oglu as a witness in relation to this matter. I request you to send an information request as to on which date the appeal dated July 30, 2015 filed against Shamakhi District Court’s decision dated July 20, 2015 on administrative detention of Rovshan Zahidov was sent to Sumgayit Appeal Court and to obtain and examine the relevant document. I also request you to question Shamakhi RPD Chief Habil Amiraslanov as a witness to investigate the pressure put on Rovshan Zahidov by Habil Amiraslanov,” the lawyer told the court.

The lawyer also quoted the attesting witness in the criminal case Hidayatov Mehman Feyruz oglu as saying during his court testimony that he had been involved in the case as an attesting witness by Shamakhi PRD investigator Malik Malikov. “In the present instance, it is necessary to question Shamakhi PRD investigator Malik Malikov in court to see whether Malik Malikov has any relation to this operation and whether Hidayatov Mehman Feyruz oglu, whom he has involved as an attesting witness, has any dependence on him, and so, I request you to question Shamakhi PRD investigator Malik Malikov as a witness in relation to this matter. In addition to the abovementioned, Sabail District Police Department’s (DPD) investigator Ilgar Hamidov has committed gross law violations in the course of the pretrial proceedings in that he was directly involved in planting false evidence in the accused Rovshan Zahidov’s house and in the coercive extraction of statement from Rovshan Zahidov by Shamakhi RPD Chief Habil Amiraslanov, and besides, it was not initially mentioned in the search protocol that the process of search of Rovshan Zahidov’s house was filmed using a phone, and it was only after the said video recording was obtained on our request that the investigator made the relevant note in the protocol. It is important to investigate these gross law violations committed during the pretrial proceedings, and I request you to question Sabail DPD investigator Ilgar Hamidov as an additional witness in this connection,” Tahir Khanaliyev added.

Rovshan Zahidov and Rufat Zahidov asked the court to grant the motion.

Commenting on the motion, the public prosecutor said there was no basis for summoning and questioning the abovementioned persons as additional witnesses.

Upon a deliberation, the court rejected the motion.

After that the presiding judge announced the decision on the completion of the judicial investigation.

The next court hearing was set for June 10, 15.00.