MOCD Officers Testify in Third Nardaran Trial

Summary: 12th hearing

> Defendant Ali Huseynov’s lawyer lodged a motion to replace his client’s pre-trial detention measure with house arrest due to his health. The judge denied the motion;

> Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD) officers Emin Safarov, Hatam Aliyev and Rovshan Jamalov testified as witnesses.

On 10 April, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Zeynal Aghayev resumed the proceedings in the criminal case of theologian Zulfugar Mikayilov, Elman Aghayev, Faig Allahverdiyev, Mehman Guliyev, Mehman Mammadov, Eldar Bunyatov, Elkhan Hasanov, Mubariz Ibrahimov, Ali Huseynov, Ramil Seyfullayev, Ruzi Ismayilov and Jabir Aliyev.

At the hearing, defendant Ali Huseynov’s lawyer Zibeyda Sadigova lodged a motion to replace his client’s pre-trial detention measure with house arrest due to his health. The lawyer substantiated her motion with the fact that Huseynov suffered from eczema and a lumbar hernia. Sadigova noted that her client’s diseases required home treatment. “Ali Huseynov should be on a diet due to his eczema condition and his meals should be monitored. His disease causes strong itchy red spots on his skin. He can contract germs while itching. He should be given medications, which are not available in the treatment facility. On top of that, he actually needs surgery for his lumbar hernia, but the doctors have recommended herbal treatment rather than surgery due to his eczema condition. Huseynov’s lumbar hernia torments him and makes it difficult for him to walk,” the lawyer said. The jury denied the motion after a brief deliberation.

After that, MOCD detective, Police Maj. Emin Safarov testified as a witness. He identified defendant Zulfugar Mikayilov as the person whom they had detained. “On 26 November 2015, we received a tip-off about Zulfugar Mikayilov’s cooperation with Taleh Bagirzade in storing weapons and ammo and kindling religious animosity. An operation group was set up, and I was appointed as the head of the group. We took a position and waited in front of Zulfugar Mikayilov’s house, and detained him upon his arrival. He said he had a pistol on him and explosives in his house. We inspected his house and seized 2 grenades, 2 grenade igniters, 4 TNT blocks, a netbook and a laptop. There was nobody at home. No force was used against Zulfugar Mikayilov,” Safarov said.

Safarov then answered the lawyers’ questions. He said detectives Hatam Aliyev and Rovshan Jamalov had also participated in the operation, but he did not remember the others. He said 8 officers had taken part in the operation. He noted that Zulfugar Mikayilov gave his consent for the inspection of his house, and wrote a statement in that respect afoot in the operation site. Safarov gave ‘I do not remember’ reply to the lawyers’ questions as to at what o’clock they had left the department, whether or not the Nardaran operation had started at that time, where he was standing during the operation, which car they had gone in, how many stories the building housing Zulfugar Mikayilov’s apartment had, and which floor his apartment was located on. The subsequent questions such as how long they had remained in the yard before entering the house, whether or not Zulfugar Mikayilov had got into his car when they approached him, whether or not Mikayilov’s driver was there, and how long the operation had taken were also answered in the same way. “There were many operations. I am not obliged to remember them all,” the witness said and noted that they had brought the attesting witnesses together with themselves.

“You are a young guy. It is not befitting of you to frame someone. We will get out of jail, but you will have to answer to your own conscience,” defendant Mikayilov said and quoted a grey-haired MOCD officer as saying that the operation had been led by him, contrary to Safarov’s claim that he had been in charge. Zulfugar Mikayilov added that he had not been presented a decision, had been detained not in front of his house but in his car, had not written any statement regarding the search of his apartment, had seen the attesting witnesses only in the Department, had witnessed MOCD officers to pay AZN 5 to 2 attesting witnesses, and the weapons had been planted on him and in his house by the detectives. According to Zulfugar Mikayilov, the detectives took the AZN 100 he had in his pocket without documenting it. “That was baksheesh,” lawyer Bahruz Bayramov said with a smile. Presiding Judge Zeynal Agayev made a warning to the lawyer. The warning was recorded in the hearing transcript.

After the break, MOCD officer Hatam Aliyev testified as a witness. His testimony was similar to that of MOCD officer Emin Safarov. But unlike Safarov, he said the house had been searched. Aliyev noted that apart from Zulfugar Mikayilov, he had also participated in the operation of detaining defendant Elkhan Hasanov. Like Safarov, Aliyev also replied to most questions of the lawyers by saying ‘I cannot recollect’. During the cross-examination, it turned out that he had his name and surname, but not his signature on the protocol about the search of Elkhan Hasanov’s house located in Lankaran city. The witness said it was a ‘technical error’. Asked by lawyer Ramiz Mammadov whether the properties of the object found on the detainee had been indicated in the protocol, witness Aliyev said they were identified by the experts. The lawyer disagreed saying those notes were supposed to be made by detectives. Witness Aliyev first said there was no one in Zulfugar Mikayilov’s house, but then said there was a woman. He noted that upon entering the house, they first moved to the parlour and searched there. However, defendant Elman Agayev quoted witness Safarov as saying that they had first searched the bedroom.

Defendant Elkhan Hasanov asked the witness to describe how they had detained him. As the witness started to talk about that, Hasanov said ‘Do not be afraid. Say that I wrote whatever you dictated to me at the investigation. You told me that you knew I did not know Taleh Bagirzade, but the order to arrest me was from above. Say the way you actually conducted the case’. However, witness Aliyev denied this.

Next, MOCD officer Rovshan Jamalov testified as a witness. He provided a similar testimony as for his colleagues Emin Safarov and Hatam Aliyev. He also replied to the lawyers’ questions by saying ‘I do not recall’. Defendant Eldar Bunyatov said the witness was bearing false testimony. “You told me that ‘you are an old man, they’ll take and hurt you if you disagreed to admit the weapons’. You even offered me a tea with lemon in the department. The Constitution has been written by my uncle Jafar Movsumzade. How many charges have they brought against us? I am 65 and will turn 66 soon. I suffer from diabetes and cyst. Do I look like a person who carries a gun? I did not even have a small knife on me which they use to cut apples,” the defendant said.

The next hearing was set for 17 April, 10.30 am.

Background: Z. Mikayilov and others are charged under Articles 214.2.1 (terrorism, committed on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons, by an organised group or a criminal community (criminal organisation)), 214.2.3 (terrorism, committed with use of fire-arms or objects used as a weapon), 214-2 (open calls for terrorist acts), 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as for violence against citizens), 228.4 (illegal acquisition, selling or carrying of a gas weapon, cold steel, as well as a throwing weapon by an organised group, except for places where carrying of a cold steel is an accessory of a national suit or is connected to hunting), 278 (actions aimed at violent seizure or retention of power in infringement of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as aimed at violent change of the constitutional grounds of the state), 279.1 (creation of armed formations or groups, which are not provided for by the legislation of the Azerbaijan Republic, participation in their creation and activity, and supplying them with weapons, ammunition, explosives, military engineering or military equipment), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people), and 283.2.3 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by an organised group) of the Criminal Code.

Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade was arrested in an operation conducted in Nardaran on 26 November 2015. Under Baku Grave Crimes Court’s verdict of 25 January 2017, Taleh Bagirzade and his 17 co-defendants were sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison. T. Bagirzade’s deputy Elchin Gasimov and his 11 co-defendants’ case is also currently pending before the court.

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