Hearing Held on Mehman Huseynov’s Appeal against the Decision of the Prosecutor’s Office

April 6th, 2017

> The court granted the lawyers’ motion to postpone the proceedings to make observations on the transcripts of Sabail District Court.

On 6 April, Baku Court of Appeal considered the appeal brought against the decision of Baku Prosecutor’s Office on refusal to initiate criminal proceedings into the police torture against blogger Mehman Huseynov. The hearing was held behind closed doors and presided over by Judge Gail Mammadov. Mehman Huseynov’s participation in the hearing was ensured.

The blogger’s rights were defended by lawyers Elchin Sadigov and Fuad Agayev.

After the trial, lawyer Fuad Agayev told the reporters that they had not been given the transcripts of the proceedings held on this case in Sabail District Court. “Despite the fact that we even came to the court and waited for the day for the transcripts to be ready and requested the transcripts both verbally and in writing, the transcripts were not presented to us till the end of the working day. They have sent the case materials directly to Baku Court of Appeal after we filed an appeal,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer added that only today they were able to familiarise themselves with the transcript of the 28 March hearing of Sabail District Court. “There are a number of shortcomings and inaccuracies in the transcript. In this case, parties to the proceedings have the right to make observations on the transcript. Exercising this right, we asked for the postponement of these proceedings to submit our observations on the transcript of Sabail District Court,” the lawyer noted.

According to the lawyer, the court granted their motion and deferred the appeal hearing.

Lawyer Elchin Sadigov noted that the proceedings had been postponed indefinitely. “Because now that we are making observations on the transcript, the case needs to be returned to the court of the first instance, and Sabail District Court needs to make a relevant decision on whether the observations are grounded or groundless. After that decision is made, the case will be referred back to the court of appeal and the hearing will be resumed,” Sadigov said.

Elchin Sadigov added that Mehman Huseynov was attending the hearing and defended his lawyers’ motion. “Mehman Huseynov’s health is normal and he has no complaint about his detention conditions,” the lawyer said.

Background: Huseynov had appealed to the prosecutor’s office to investigate the fact of his subjection to torture during his detention by the police in January and to start criminal proceedings, but the prosecutor’s office made a decision refusing to launch a criminal case. The appeal filed against this decision was denied by Sabail District Court. The current appeal has been filed against this decision.

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.

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.

An appeal filed against this decision is also pending before Baku Court of Appeal, Judge Vagif Mursagulov. A preliminary hearing on the appeal has already been held, and the hearing on merits has been set for 10 April.