Nardaran Prisoners Recount Torture at Their Trial

Summary: 8th hearing

Defendant Ramil Aliyev answered the public prosecutor’s and the lawyers’ questions;
Defendant Elgun Akhundov and Ali Shahbazov testified about the tortures inflicted upon them.

On 24 February, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Mayil Bayramov held another hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement (MUM) chairman Taleh Bagirzade’s deputy Elchin Gasimov and his 11 co-defendants – Nahid Gahramanov, Aghaali Yahyayev, Seyfaddin Shirvanov, Farhad Muradov, Ramil Aliyev, Elgun Akhundov, Vusal Alishov, Isa Ibrahimov, Seymur Aslanov, Ali Shahbazov and Amirali Aliyev.

Defendant Ramil Aliyev answered the public prosecutor’s and the lawyers’ questions. He noted that he had been subjected to torture during the investigation and wanted to speak about that in detail. However, the presiding judge demanded him to answer the questions on merits, noting that the court had appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office regarding the torture allegations and an investigation was being carried out, and, plus, he had given a two-hour-long testimony at the previous hearing.

Ramil Aliyev spoke about his arrest and said that he had received a phone call from the police department before his arrest. “They told me that police chief Safar was calling me. I went. When I arrived there, they said ‘we know you and your family well, but we have received an order from above and had to take you’. Then, they said they needed to search my apartment. I came home together with them. They searched my clothes and did not find anything. At home, they allegedly found a grenade under small mattresses. Then, paid false attesting witnesses came and acted as a witness. After that, they inspected the books. Coming back, they told me that they had found Taleh Bagirzade’s booklet in a pocket of my jacket in the room where the books were. I knew I was going to be arrested five days ahead. Had I had a weapon, I would have thrown it into the river flowing next to my house when going to the police office. The indictment says I had called upon people to disobey the authorities. If that were so, why did I go to the police office after a single telephone call to the police? We then came to Jalilabad Regional Police Department. There, they told me to write that I had found the weapon from a waste-yard. When I refused, they said ‘if you respect your parents and do not want to be cursed or beaten up, write what we say’. I would agree to be jailed for 20 years, but would not accept profanities from dishonourable people that they are. Therefore, I wrote. Then, they brought me to the Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD). There, they wanted to extract a statement from me against Taleh Bagirzade. As I objected, they said ‘we will rape you and make you so miserable that the inmates won’t give you space when you go to the jail, and you’ll always walk with your head down and sleep at the door’. But, I still did not do what they wanted. I said I wouldn’t do that even if they killed me. The so-called Taleh Bagirzade’s booklet has been written by the MOCD chief himself. Taleh did not have such a book. The Caucasian Muslims Office and the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations are not concerned about us. When visiting the region, employees of the Caucasian Muslims Office have tea with a couple of people at the executive power premises and go back. They do not meet with believers,” Aliyev said.

Next, defendant Elgun Akhundov testified. He pleaded not guilty. “I was sleeping at home the night of 30 November 2015, when I heard the door being violently knocked at. As I opened the door, they shoved me into a car without introducing themselves and took me away. I asked them why they had come. One of the officers pulled a gun on me and said he would kill me if I spoke much. From there, they brought me to Binagadi District Police Department. They searched the house in my absence and allegedly found a weapon. At that time, there was no one beside them. They have taken all the money that was at home, till the last penny. My father has a heart disease. We had borrowed USD 20,000 from my brother-in-law for his surgery. They have taken that money, as well. They did not leave even one manat at home to buy bread if needed. That USD 20,000 is still in the hands of Movsum Jabbarov, the senior investigator of Binagadi District Police Department. They do not return it despite our repeated requests. That money has nothing to do with the charges. First, they filed weapon charges against me. Later, at the MOCD, the investigator said he had received an order that the charges had to be aggravated. I demand evidence for all the accusations. They have written that I made a speech calling for mass disorders. Let them show where I made that speech or when I carried a weapon? One of the false attesting witnesses that framed me is my neighbour. I am looking forward to confronting him here,” the defendant said.

After that, Nardaran resident, defendant Ali Shahbazov testified. Shahbazov noted that initially his father had been arrested. “Allegedly, a weapon was found on my father, and he was therefore arrested. After that incident, I saw one of the police officers on the street and asked him why they had arrested my father. He said ‘you are four brothers, one of you come and take on the charges, and your father will be released’. I agreed and went to the 14th police station. There, police chief Sadig Heydarov attacked me. I said ‘do not try to hit me, or I will complain to Mehriban Aliyeva’. But he cursed Mehriban Aliyeva. From there, they brought me to the Main Organised Crime Department. After being held there for one month, I learned that they had not released my father but sentenced him to 2 years and nine months in jail. They have also arrested my brother who was objecting to our detention. This country is headless. It is a disgrace,” Shahbazov said.

The next hearing was set for 3 March, 12.30pm.

Background: Muslim Union Movement deputy chairman Elchin Gasimov was arrested on 5 November 2015. He was initially charged under Article 310 (wilful disobedience to lawful requirements of a police officer) of the Administrative Violations Code and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Afterwards, a criminal case was initiated against him, and he was arrested. He and his co-defendants were charged with terrorism; incitement to terrorism; incitement to active disobedience to lawful demands of the representative of authority, riots and violence against citizens; illegal acquisition, transfer, selling, storage, transportation and carrying of firearms, accessories and ammunition as an organised group; violent seizure or retention of power; formation of armed groups not provided for in the legislation; making open appeals against the state; instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility as an organised group; forgery, illegal production and selling of official documents, state awards, seals, stamps and forms, or knowing use of fake documents; hooliganism; and, resistance or use of violence against the representative of authority.

Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade was arrested during an operation conducted in Nardaran on 26 November 2015. Bagirzade stood trial in Baku Grave Crimes Court along with 17 other men including APFP deputy chairman Fuad Gahramanli. On 25 January, the Court sentenced Bagirzade to 20 years, Gahramanli to 10 years, and others to between 10 and 20 years in jail.

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