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Leyla and Arif Yunus’ case returned to Grave Crimes Court
Summary: Hearing 3 (20 October)
Lawyer Elchin Sadigov familiarised himself with the minutes of the hearings conducted at the Grave Crimes Court and added his comments; the case was referred to the court of first instance for a decision regarding the comments. The appeal hearing was postponed indefinitely.
On 20 October, Baku Court of Appeal, chaired by judge Vugar Mammadov, held another hearing on the criminal case of the human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus. Numerous people came to observe the hearing, but only a few were allowed to enter the courtroom.
Representatives of the US and German embassies and Brussels-based Research Organization for Human Rights also observed the hearing, along with members of the public, mass media, politicians and party chairpersons.
The presiding judge began the hearing without turning on the microphone and speakers inside the glass-encased booth where the prisoners were held. Judge Vugar Mammadov told the court that one of the defense lawyers, Elchin Sadigov, had presented his comments on the minutes of the hearings held in the Baku Grave Crimes Court and, therefore, the case had been referred to the Grave Crimes Court for a ruling on those comments.
The Court of Appeal has postponed the hearing until the case is returned by the Grave Crimes Court.
Background: Leyla and Arif Yunus were arrested in late July and early August 2014. Leyla Yunus was charged under articles 178.3.2 (large scale fraud), 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.2.2 (tax evasion), 274 (treason), 320.1 and 320.2 (falsification of documents) of the Criminal Code. Arif Yunus was charged under articles 178.3.2 (large scale fraud) and 274 (treason).
The prosecuting authority subsequently ruled to investigate the treason charges under separate proceedings. Amnesty International has recognised Leyla and Arif Yunus as prisoners of conscience.
Leyla and Arif Yunus were sentenced to 8.5 and 7 years in jail respectively by the Baku Grave Crimes Court on 13 August 2015.