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Today is the birthday of former IRFS Chairman, journalist Rasim Aliyev who mysteriously died in the hospital after suffering a brutal beating on 8 August 2015. Had he not been murdered, Rasim Aliyev would have celebrated his 32nd birthday today.
“Rasim Aliyev would continue his struggle for protection of journalists and human rights in Azerbaijan today, if he had not been killed. It is so sad that he is not with us today, and Azerbaijani people have been deprived of the contribution which Rasim Aliyev could have made to the democratic change in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani society should always remember the individuals like Rasim, should study their legacy and pass this knowledge down to future generations so that the younger generation follows in the footsteps of such heroic journalists and human rights defenders as Rasim and so that Azerbaijan soon becomes a developed country genuinely respecting democratic values,” IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov said.
IRFS has conducted an in-depth investigation into the murder of Rasim Aliyev and has released a report presenting the findings of this investigation.
Background: On July 25, 2015, Rasim Aliyev received threatening messages on the social networking website Odnoklassniki. He was shown the images that he had shot while working for IRFS and was told that he would have to answer for them. On July 26, 2015, Rasim Aliyev appealed to Sabail District Police Office #8, informing them of the death threats. However, police failed to take action to protect his life.
On August 6, 2015, Gabala Football Club player Javid Huseynov was interviewed by journalists after the Gabala-Apollo (Cyprus) match of the third qualification round of Europe League. According to the media, Huseynov first called on the journalists, who criticized him for his obscene gesture made during the first leg match, to take a blood test, trying to indirectly hint that those, who criticized him, had Armenian blood in their vessels. Huseynov then acted disrespectfully towards a Cypriot journalist, who asked him why he raised a Turkish flag. Besides telling him in English that “Turks are my friends”, Huseynov made an obscene gesture to our colleague with his hand. The moment was captured by cameras .
Sharing this news on his Facebook page, Rasim Aliyev wrote the following words in his post: “I don’t want such an immoral and ill-mannered footballer, who cannot control himself, to represent me in European stadiums.” After that, Javid Huseynov and his relatives called Rasim Aliyev and Javid’s cousin invited him to a meeting. The moments of beating of Rasim Aliyev, who went to the meeting alone, were fully recorded by the security camera installed for the sake of public order.
Note that journalist Rasim Aliyev was a member of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety since the day of its establishment in 2006. After IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov was forced to go into hiding to avoid arbitrary criminal prosecution last August, Rasim Aliyev was elected the chairman of IRFS in the autumn of 2014 at a report-election conference. The Ministry of Justice was officially informed about the change of IRFS chairman. Although Aliyev was not actually working for IRFS as its projects were stopped due to the suspension of bank accounts, the confiscation of its equipment and documents and the sealing of its office, he remained the chairman of IRFS until his death.
A criminal case was launched in connection with Rasim Aliyev’s death under Article 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim) of the Criminal Code, as part of which five people were arrested. According to the indictment, Kanan Madatov, Jamal Mammadov and Samir Mustafayev were charged with the Article 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim), while Elshan Ismayilov, who is the football player Javid Huseynov’s cousin, and Arif Aliyev were charged with Articles 126.3 (deliberate causing of serious harm to health entailing on imprudence death of a victim) and 177.1 (theft) of the Criminal Code. On 1 April 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted the five men finding them guilty of committing the crime of murder. The court sentenced Elshan Ismayilov to 13 years, Arif Aliyev to 12.5 years, Jamal Mammadov to 11 years, Kanan Madatov to 9 years, and Samir Mustafayev to 9 years in jail.
Gabala Football Club captain Javid Huseynov was also arrested in connection with the murder of journalist Rasim Aliyev and charged under Articles 307.1 (failure to inform about a serious crime, despite of being aware of its preparation or committal) and 307.2 (concealment of a serious crime without a prior consent) of the Criminal Code in a separate criminal case. Javid Huseynov was sentenced to 4 years in jail by Sabail District Court’s judgment of 31 May 2016.