Lost dignity, hollow smiles: Journalist Avaz Zeynalli addresses his judges from prison

March 27th, 2013

evez zeynalli

Khural newspaper editor Avaz Zeynalli, currently serving his prison term, has sent an open letter to the judges, who heard his case in Baku Grave Crimes Court, his wife Malahat Zeynalli told IRFS today. According to Malahat Zeynalli, the letter was sent to judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva.

“In this letter Avaz Zeynalli slams deteriorated situation in the judicial system, exposes judges have lost their dignity and moral values. He wrote that even smile of the judges is hollow” said journalist’s spouse.

According to Malahat Zeynalli, the letter will soon be sent out to the media. In addition, a 103-page testimony that Avaz Zeynalli provided to the court will be published.

Note that Avaz Zeynalli has filed an appeal against the decision of the Grave Crimes Court sentencing him to nine years in prison.

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 asked the court to sentence Zeynalli to 11 years in jail. On 12 March 2013 the Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced the journalist to nine years in prison.

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.