Nardaran Prisoners Refuse Services of Their Defence Counsels


Summary: Hearing 41 

  •  All of the defendants refused the services of their lawyers.

On 2 December 2016 Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov continued the hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement’s Chairman Taleh Bagirzade and other members of the Muslim Union Movement, charged under 21 articles of the Criminal Code including homicide, terrorism and incitement.

The APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli who is not a member of the Movement but yet accused of promoting their cause is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code respectively.

On 26 November 2015 an armed incident occurred between a group of believers and policemen in Nardaran settlement of Baku, during an operation conducted by the police. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several believers were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched in relation to the incident by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.

Fuad Gahramanli, who was not present during the incident, was arrested on 8 December, 2015. His lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that Fuad Gahramanli was arrested due to his Facebook posts and his case was merged with the criminal case of the people arrested over the Nardaran incidents.

The presiding judge opened the hearing. However, he was forced to postpone it until 2 pm due to the absence of the defendants and all defence lawyers except Nemat Karimli. The judge said he would complain to the Bar Association about the lawyers who were not in attendance.

After the break, the defendants were still not present. Lawyer Nemat Karimli asked how long the defendants would be banned from participating in the hearing. The judge replied that as long as the court deemed appropriate.

Lawyer Yalchin Imanov remarked that the court had not provided justification for this decision.

Lawyer Nemat Karimli said he wanted to meet and consult his client Abbas Huseynov. The judge told the lawyer that he could meet with the defendant either at the detention facility or in court.

Lawyer Yalchin Imanov reminded the lawyers did not show up at court because their clients demanded them to not attend any hearing without their participation. “We have to do what they tell us to do, because we are defending their interests. You every time complain to the Bar about the lawyers. Although you do not say anything to the district police officer who insults my colleague, you readily complain about us. You are unable to admonish or influence the district police officer, but you try to keep the lawyers under control. I have no clue about the reason for this pressure. We are as if standing under Damocles’ Sword. I have always attended these proceedings. Only today, I was two minutes late, and you have already complained. The reason I was late was because I was writing a motion regarding Ramil Usubov. I feel offended when I am told to go to the court,” the lawyer said.

“It’s true that unlike the other lawyers, you haven’t missed any hearing. I have not complained about you. We every time announce the time of the [next] hearing, and when the lawyers are late, we appeal to the Bar to ensure their presence. It has never been about punishing you. As for the district police officer, he is not subject to the court. Last time, the discord occurred due to the lawyer. He started first, and then the parties blamed each other. If you are dissatisfied, you reserve the right to complain about my actions,” the judge said.

The court announced the end of the witness examination phase.

“The court does not want to investigate the case objectively. There are numerous prosecution witnesses and relatives of the deceased police officers, who have to come and testify. We know the witnesses are pressured and therefore they do not come here,” lawyer Yalchin Imanov said.

“Witnesses Nijat Huseynov, Movsum Feyzullayev, Zamin Malikov and Zamin Bunyatov, as well as the deceased officers’ representatives Imran Nasibov and Alizamin Tagiyev have sent in a telegram saying that they do not want to participate in the hearing. Therefore, the court has ruled that it is not necessary to examine those witnesses,” the judge responded.

The judge then noted that the court had received motions from the lawyers. “The motions request the summoning of Minister of Interior Ramil Usubov, ex head of International Bank of Azerbaijan – currently arrested on corruption charges — Jahangir Hajiyev — and an Interior Minister officer Karim Alimardanov to the court. Thus, the question of calling additional witnesses is going to be discussed,” the judge said.

The reason the lawyers request Jahangir Hajiyev’s testimony in court as he reportedly witnessed torture of their clients in custody. Ramil Usubov’s testimony could help clarify his initial statement to a state TV on 26 November that five people had been killed in Nardaran incident, while the official statistics of the four casualties.

The lawyers said they could express an opinion after consulting their clients. The judge announced a break in the hearing to let the lawyers consult their clients.

After almost two hours of break, it turned out that the defendants refused the services of their counsels.

The next hearing was set for 12 December, 9.30 am.

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