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Elchin Sadigov, lawyer of imprisoned Khural newspaper editor Avaz Zeynalli, was denied meeting with his client on May 23rd, as he told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) today. According to Sadigov, he went to the prison #10, where Zeynalli is serving his term, introduced his warrant of attorney and license, and said he wanted to meet Zeynalli.
“The person named Vazir, who was guarding the entrance, did not allow me to enter the prison. He claimed that I required a written permission from the chief office- Penitentiary Service. I told him that although his requirement was unlawful, yet I had sent a letter and my power of attorney to Penitentiary Service head Madat Guliyev on May 20th. But Vazir insisted that I should present a written confirmation. I called the Penitentiary Service, but no one answered the phone” Sadigov said and added that he would appeal to the court in connection with this illegality.
Background: Avaz Zeynalli was arrested on October 28, 2011 following a lawsuit brought by former MP Gular Ahmadova. The Anti-Corruption Office launched a criminal case against Zeynalli under article 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) and article 311.3.4 (extortion) of the Criminal Code. Zeynalli was later charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion). On 13 February 2013 the public prosecutor requested 11 years imprisonment for Zeynalli. On 12 March 2013 the Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced the journalist to nine years in prison. The decision was upheld by Baku Appeals Court.
A number of local and international human rights organizations strongly believe that the charges against Avaz Zeynalli are trumped-up and that he was arrested for his articles criticizing high-ranking state officials.