Khadija Ismayil’s Appeal Rejected

August 15th, 2016

06f121_3fbeef46c5824aeab33b6d59ce6ad601.jpg

Summary: Hearing 2

 Khadija Ismayil and her lawyer Fariz Namazli made speeches at the hearing and stated that the ban on leaving the country imposed on Khadija Ismayil was unlawful;
 Public prosecutor Orkhan Damirli took the floor and requested the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold Binagadi District Court’s decision;
 After a brief deliberation, the court announced that the appeal was not granted and Binagadi District Court’s decision was upheld.

Baku Court of Appeal, chaired by Judge Vagif Mursagulov, held a hearing on the appeal against the district court’s decision rejecting the request to lift the ban prohibiting journalist Khadija Ismayil from leaving the territory of Azerbaijan Republic during the probationary period. Khadija Ismayil was arrested on 5 December 2014. The journalist was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in jail on charges of tax evasion, misappropriation, illegal business and abuse of official powers. On 25 May 2016, Supreme Court acquitted the journalist of the charges of misappropriation and abuse of official powers, and she was released from prison on a suspended sentence of 3 years and 6 months. On August 8, Khadija Ismayil’s suspended sentence term was reduced to 2 years and 3 months. The journalist appealed to the court for permission to leave the country, but on 28 June 2016, Binagadi District Court denied the journalist permission to leave the country. The journalist has appealed this decision.

Courtroom speeches:

At today’s hearing, Khadija Ismayil made a speech, calling the ban on leaving the country imposed on her illegal. “In its decision disallowing me from leaving the country, Binagadi District Court says that I may not return to the country due to the fact that I do not have husband, children or property. I understand that it is only property that binds many of the government representatives to Azerbaijan. But for me, Azerbaijan is the homeland with everything it has, from its people to its soil! Migration Code states that a person with a suspended sentence may be prohibited from leaving the country. In other words, it is not unequivocal and needs to be justified. Supreme Court’s decision on my suspended sentence has just a provision that I must inform the department for the execution of judgments when changing my permanent residence. There is no other prohibition. It turns out that the department for the execution of judgments has imposed the travel ban against me arbitrarily, despite the fact that they themselves told the court that Khadija Ismayil has not committed any violation during the probationary period. In connection with my professional activities, I often travel abroad to attend international conferences and trainings. Therefore, it is important for me to able to leave the country. I investigate transnational corruption crimes. I have been invited to events to be held in the United States, Indonesia, France and Germany in September-November. I will participate in those events whether our justice system allows it or not. It is the Internet Age; if I do not travel, I will join via Skype. But, it would be better if I went. At least, it would not give the impression as if Azerbaijan is a prison, where they do not allow people to travel outside,” the journalist said.

Khadija Ismayil said she does not intend to leave the country for good under any circumstances.

“It is known that Ilham Aliyev’s internal and external policies have turned the country into a prison. At least, you do not confirm it with court decisions,” Khadija Ismayil added.

Journalist’s lawyer Fariz Namazli spoke next, noting that the ban preventing Khadija Ismayil from leaving the country was unlawful. “Binagadi District Court did not weigh our arguments when deciding on this matter, and violated the requirements of the European Convention. Khadija Ismayil was in a foreign country prior to her arrest. At that time, there were rumours going around that she would be arrested. She, nevertheless, returned to the country. It goes to show that there is no reason to claim that she will leave the country for good. Besides, it is illogical and unfair to assign a 5-year probationary period to Khadija Ismayil when her suspended sentence term is 2 years and 3 months,” Namazli said.

Public prosecutor Orkhan Damirli took the floor and requested the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold Binagadi District Court’s decision.

After a brief deliberation, the court announced that the appeal was not granted and Binagadi District Court’s decision was upheld.