July 1st, 2009
Today, 1 July, in the Absheron District Court, under the chairmanship of Judge Shemseddin Abbasov, the hearing on the case against "Yeni Musavat" Newspaper columnist and former Editor-in-Chief of “Khalg” Newspaper Mahal Ismayiloglu concluded and a verdict was issued.

Defendant M. Ismayiloglu, his lawyers Alayif Hasanov, and Media Rights Institute employee Elchin Sadigov, alleged victim Najiba Safarova, and prosecutor Tofig Suleymanov participated in the hearing.
Stating that the defendant was found guilty under articles 127 (intentional infliction of minor severe bodily harm), 128 (intentional infliction of minor bodily harm) and 221.3 (hooliganism with use of a weapon or weapon-like item) of the Criminal Code, Judge S. Abbasov issued a verdict to sentence Mahal Ismayiloglu to conditional imprisonment for two years and to pay 30 AZN to injured party N. Safarova. Although Prosecutor T. Suleymanov demanded that M. Ismayiloglu be sentenced to three years conditional imprisonment, the judge emphasized that the punishment was reduced to two years because the defendant has a good reference and he is a Group II handicapped person.

On 27 June 2008, M. Ismayiloglu was called to a police department on the basis of a lawsuit filed against him by his neighbor Vahid Imanov’s servant. In the complaint it is alleged that the journalist beat his neighbor's servant for dumping trash in his yard. Therefore a criminal case was instituted against M. Ismayiloglu.  Ismayiloglu claims that this incident never occurred and his neighbor is angry about articles that Ismayiloglu wrote.  

M. Ismayiloglu told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that he considers the verdict issued about him unfair and politically motivated. “It was evident during court investigation that everything – up to the smallest details – is spurious, and this case is an order given against me for my journalistic activity and my stern criticism against government,” said M. Ismayiloglu.  “As it was the case with journalists thrown to prisons on politically motivated charges, I am also punished due to partiality of the government.”

An appeal will be filed against this verdict, according to M.Ismayiloglu.