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> Lawyer Elchin Sadigov: We will file an appeal with the Supreme Court. Unless it is granted, we will turn to the European Court.
On 12 April, Baku Court of Appeal announced the decision on the appeal filed against Surakhani District Court’s judgment on blogger Mehman Huseynov. The judgment was upheld by the jury presided over by Judge Vagif Mursagulov.
The hearing was attended by media representatives, socio-political figures, and representatives of civil society, international organisations and diplomatic corps. Mehman Huseynov’s presence in the hearing as ensured. His rights were defended by lawyers Elchin Sadigov, Fuad Agayev and Shahla Humbatova. Lawyer Alirza Habilov participated as the representative of the party that has brought the private prosecution.
After the hearing, lawyer Elchin Sadigov told the journalists that they believed that the decision was unlawful. He noted that they were going to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
“It is an absolutely groundless and unlawful decision which is incompatible with any legal norms. Unless our cassation appeal is granted, we will apply to the European Court. In general, Article 10 of the European Convention prohibits criminal prosecution of people for freedom of expression. The government of Azerbaijan has recently started to employ Article 147 of the Criminal Code to silence journalists,” the lawyer said.
APFP Chairman Ali Karimli made the following commentary on the decision. “This decision showed that there is no independent court in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani courts are part of the repression machine in the country. The court of appeal also proved this by upholding the biased decision against Mehman Huseynov. Mehman Huseynov’s imprisonment on trumped-up charges is the corrupt officials’ revenge on him. The fact that Mr Huseynov has been punished exactly due to the materials exposing corruption is a proof that the government in Azerbaijan is the government of corrupt officials not of the people. This government defends the corrupt officials. Therefore, those who expose the corrupt officials are punished,” Karimli said.
Background: Mehman Huseynov was detained by officers of Nasimi District Police Department in the evening hours on 9 January. He was released after being convicted under Article 535.1 (disobedience to lawful requirements of police) of the Administrative Offences Code and fined AZN 200 by Nasimi District Court. Speaking to journalists after leaving the court building, Huseynov said he was facing the pressure due to his professional activities and had been tortured by the police during his detention.
Huseynov appealed to the prosecutor’s office to investigate the fact of torture and to start criminal proceedings, but the prosecutor’s office refused to launch a criminal case.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) denied the blogger’s claims and called his allegations a libel. The Ministry’s statement also read that the MIA had submitted a petition to the Prosecutor General’s Office for a legal assessment of Mehman Huseynov’s libellous accusations against the police incriminating them of a serious crime.
After that, Nasimi District Police Department chief Musa Musayev filed a private prosecution with the court. The police chief asked the court to bring Mehman Huseynov to justice under Article 147.2 (libel, involving an accusation of a serious or particularly serious crime) of the Criminal Code.
Based on this complaint, Surakhani District Court sentenced Mehman Huseynov to 2 years in jail on 3 March.