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On 29 September, the Baku Court of Appeal under judge Gail Mammadov heard the appeal filed by Khadija Ismayil’s lawyers against the verdict issued by the Binagady District Court, which convicted Ismayil under Article 147.2 (defamation by accusing a person of a serious crime) of the Criminal Code. She was fined 2500 manat.
At today’s hearing, Khadija Ismayil filed a petition stating, “It is important for me to know when this this document was disseminated, and by whom. The court must clarify this issue, because I have been charged with disseminating this document on February 2014. However, when sharing that document on Facebook, I blacked out the name. And when publishing the second document, I noted that I was unsure about the accuracy of its content and that I would regret it if the MNS [Ministry of National Security] was really involved in such activities. It is a tragedy for the Azerbaijani state that the state-funded MNS records videos of people’s private lives, which are then used to blackmail people and coerce them into working against the [political] opposition.”
Ismayil added that when posting the document on Facebook she had redacted the name of the private prosecutor Elman Hasanov (aka Bayragdar) (A private prosecutor is one who prefers an accusation against a party whom be suspects to be guilty, ed)and, furthermore, that document had been originally shared by a user going under the name of Mustafa Kozlu, who had not redacted the name.
Commenting on Khadija Ismayil’s petition, private prosecutor Elman Hasanov noted that the document in question had been made up to defame him by the APFP Chairman Ali Karimli, along with Ganimat Zahidov, Natig Adilov and Khadija Ismayil.
Khadija Ismayil’s lawyers filed a petition to summon Ali Karimli to testify as a witness, as his name had been mentioned in relation to the case. However, the judge denied the motion.
In response, Hasanov claimed that the Facebook account of “Mustafa Kozlu” was in fact managed by Khadija Ismayil, and was used to disseminate information about him in 2011. He told the court that he has documentary evidence. Ismayil’s lawyer Fariz Namazli requested that those documents be presented in court, but Hasanov said that he would present them at a later stage.
Elman Hasanov went on to accuse Ali Karimli and Khadija Ismayil of causing [former APFP leader and second Azerbaijani president] Elchibey’s death. Khadija Ismayil responded [with sarcasm] that she had subconsciously been the protagonist in the assassination of the US President John Kennedy, the outbreak of the Second World War and changing the course of history in general, but had somehow remained unaware.
Khadija Ismayil filed another petition requesting termination of the criminal case in accordance with the criminal procedure legislation. “Binagady District Court announced the verdict in my absence. This demonstrates the collapse of Azerbaijan’s judicial system”, she said.
The Court of Appeal ruled to uphold the Binagady District Court’s verdict of 23 February 2015.
Background: Khadija Ismayil was arrested on 5 December 2014. She was initially charged under article 125 of the Criminal Code (incitement to suicide). Later, she faced new charges under articles 179 (misappropriation), 192.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.2 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of official powers). On 1 September, the court acquitted Khadija Ismayil of the incitement to suicide charge but found her guilty of the remaining charges. She was sentenced to 7.5 years in jail and given a 3-year ban from holding certain positions or engaging in certain activities. Amnesty International has recognised Khadija Ismayil as a prisoner of conscience.