Khayal TV journalists released with suspended sentence

On 15 March Khachmaz District Court, presided over by Judge Anar Ibrahimov, passed a verdict on Khayal TV executive director Vugar Gonagov and editor Zaur Guliyev, who were arrested in connection with the mass riot that took place in Guba region on March 1, 2012.   The court passed a three-year suspended sentence on both of the journalists, Zaur Guliyev’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS).

“Both of the journalists were initially sentenced to 3.5 years in jail. Then referring to Article 76 of the Criminal Code (release of convicts on suspended sentence), the judge replaced this sentence by 3 years of suspended sentence” said Sadigov.

The lawyer added that the journalists intend to file an appeal against this ruling, as they do not plead guilty of the charges brought against them.

Background: After the online dissemination of a video in which the then chief of Guba City Executive Power Rauf Habibov insulted Guba citizens, there was a mass riot in Guba on March 1, 2012. Protesters set Habibov’s house on fire and there were clashes between people and the police. After the protests, President Ilham Aliyev dismissed Rauf Habibov from his post. On March 13th Khayal TV correspondents Vugar Gonagov and Zaur Guliyev and up to 20 other Guba residents were arrested in connection with the protest. Gonagov and Guliyev were accused of infringement of public order (Article 233/Criminal Code) and abuse of position (Article 309/Criminal Code).

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