May 24th, 2008

In an interview to BBC, OSCE Special Representative for the Mass Media Miklos Haraszti severely criticized the decision to close the criminal case related to the beating of “Azadlig” Newspaper correspondent Agil Khalil in “Zeytun Baglari.”

According to an article in today’s edition of “Azadlig” Newspaper, Haraszti expressed his protest against separating of  the stabbing and beating of Khalil into two criminal cases. 

“This is very disturbing that the office led by Chief Prosecutor Garalov has chosen to continue to pursue the trumped up case involving (Sergei) Strekalin,” said Haraszti. “When I was in Baku I noted that considering these cases separately is objectionable.  It is also disturbing that the employees from security organs who attacked Khalil in “Olive Gardens” have been let off clean. There is film of the attack on Khalil. Who ever wants can watch it on the internet site YouTube (link). The prosecutor’s statement does not address this strong evidence. “

“To have one person who has not committed a crime say ‘I did this in court,’ is to stain the name of Azerbaijan. Local observers are of the belief that Azerbaijani officials have already decided to ignore the calls and recommendations of European structures. We are concerned by this, and believe that the President must do work both to conduct an objective investigation into this criminal case and to free the wrongfully imprisoned journalists,” said Haraszti.