On November 21st a court hearing was held on the case of azadxeber.org editor-in-chief Nijat Aliyev in the Baku Court on Grave Crimes, under chairmanship of Judge Zeynal Agayev. The proceedings continued with closing speeches by the journalist’s lawyers. One of Aliyev’s attorneys, Anar Gasimli said the charges filed against his client have not been proved and he must be acquitted.
“I had to be allowed to be present when Nijat Aliyev was detained. None of the charges brought against the accused have been proved. Everyone attending the proceedings saw how the witness testimonies, protocols and case documents were. Nijat and the others arrested together with him are referred to as a ‘mob’, while in fact, those people did not even know each-other” said the lawyer.
The next hearing on Nijat Aliyev’s case will take place on November 28, at 10:30am.
Background: Nijat Aliyev was arrested on 20 May 2012, just a few days before Eurovision Song Contest Finals, on charges of drug possession.
On 26 January 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 188.8.131.52 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media). His pretrial detention was extended for two months by Nasimi District Court on February 15.
Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.