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Summary: Hearing #50
On 16 January, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov held another hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade and others.
Defendant Bahruz Asgarov made a final speech at the hearing. “I am charged under the gravest articles, but I am not guilty, at all. All of the charges are false and absurd. We are being tried here, despite actually being victims. The evidence has made it clear that we are innocent. The charges are nothing but nonsense. In Nardaran, policemen fired at peaceful people during a funeral banquet without making any warning with loudspeakers. They used firearms in a place where there were women and children. I was shot while I was with Sarvan Safarov, real Babakishizade and Shamil Abdulaliyev. The villagers took me to the first aid station along with Farhad Balayev. Sarvan could still speak, but the station denied us medical assistance. Otherwise, Sarvan would still be alive and his family would still be whole. They took away Sarvan’s corpse.
We were arrested as soon as we reached the hospital. They wanted to kill me right there, but one of the policemen would not let them. In the hospital, I found out that they charged us with killing policemen so that we would receive more severe sentences. They gave me narcotic substances including morphine. Then, they moved me from the intensive care section to a cell. There, in that condition, the investigator questioned me about Taleh Bagirzade. Then, he made me sign under what he had jotted down. I could not read the document, and I was not of sound mind. I could not sleep comfortably as they had tied my hand to the bed and were insulting me. I then learned that I had allegedly had a grenade. I said I had not had a grenade and the statement did not belong to me. There was a cast on my foot. They kept me away from my lawyer, and I was helpless for 2 months. My motion to be released to house arrest was denied. When I asked officer Kanan Heybatov some questions, he said we were face-to-face when he arrested me. I asked him how I looked when I was apprehended and he said ‘your hair was the same’. However, that is wrong I had longer hair when arrested. Another policeman came here and said I was bald at the time. Heybatov was in a dire situation in the face of my questions. He could not explain how the bullet hit my foot from behind. There were no attesting witnesses present there at all. Kanan Heybatov did not send me to the first aid station. It was the villagers who took me to the medical unit and from there to the hospital. I demand the court to hold Kanan Heybatov to account for his perjury. Similarly, the investigator Suleyman should also be held accountable for taking my statement in that condition when I had just left the intensive care unit. I could not speak properly at that time. The court has turned a blind eye to this all. Therefore, I do not expect anything from the court. When I was in the hospital with Jahad, the chief of Sabunchu District Police Department came and said ‘a 15-year sentence awaits you, go to prison and you’ll wise up’. The fact that the prosecutor asked 15 years for us shows that it had been arranged in advance. You are all just fulfilling your political orders. You consider the case according to political instructions. People know we are not criminals. They have acquitted us. Taleh Bagirzade is behind bars for speaking the truth and fighting for democracy. If defending people’s honour and fighting for their freedom deserves a severe punishment, then give that sentence to me, as well. Do not stand like a dark cloud in front of our outstanding personalities. You cannot intimidate us with prison. You cannot silence our voices of truth even by giving us life sentences,” the defendant said.
Next, Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade made his final speech. He thanked the human rights defenders, lawyers, leadership of the National Council, the APFP chairman, Musavat Party and its leadership, Eldaniz Guliyev who had set up the committee to protect the believers’ rights, his exiled compatriots who held rallies of supports for them in Russia and Turkey, embassies of Western countries, and the media representatives, who believed them and defended their rights following their arrest. “I thought the embassies of Muslim countries would come here and support us. But it did not happen. Instead, Western embassies came and supported us. I want to extend our special thanks to our excellent hero Leyla Yunus, who gave us the voice of truth and continues to defend us. I have repeatedly been framed and arrested, and each time I faced one or two charges, but now that they have brought up 21 charges, I will speak about everything. The Nardaran events have made a history of glory in Azerbaijan. It is a stain for the ruling party, but an honour for us,” Bagirzade noted.
Bagirzade said he received letters of support from the family members of the people who died during the Nardaran incident. “I rarely wish ill upon someone. The prosecutor requested sentences for us, but I won’t wish ill upon that young prosecutor, because if there were a working justice system, he would have also sought a fair punishment. Siruz Tabrizli, one of the founders of YAP (Azerbaijan’s ruling party), said YAP is a party of faceless bandits, but I say that YAP is the party of faced bandits. We have confronted a bandit government. Indeed, during the Nardaran incident, the history repeated itself. When I was arrested, they gave me a book on the repressions of the year 1937. I read the book and found myself in it. There was fear, a coup, and torture back then, too. The nation, however, was not independent yet, and people could not have their say, but now, it is independent. It is not the Aliyevs who have given us our independence. The people gained it in 1988.
They wanted to make me give a statement against Ali Karimli. They are afraid of our unity. The authorities wanted to punish us that way but failed. Today, the nation is in a deep pit. To remove them from there we, believers and atheists alike, must act together. It is not the banks and devaluation, which is responsible for this situation of the people, but the government and the silence of the citizens. The people are afraid of the Ministry of National Security, Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD) – these bandits. See what kind of a government we are face-to-face with. The government has turned robbery and bribery into a state policy and are proud of it. This government will definitely step down. The Azerbaijani authorities do not have national interests; they only have family and personal interests,” Bagirzade said.
After the break, Taleh Bagirzade continued his speech. He called Abulfaz Bunyatov, who has become disabled and bed-bound due to a bullet wound sustained during the Nardaran incident, a living martyr. Bagirzade spoke of oppression and tortures inflicted upon him and his family. “Previously, I hoped that there would be reforms. But I saw their true faces when I was in the MOCD. This government will not be changed, ever. I went there as a trustworthy civil person but left there as a revolutionist. We will make a revolution, but this revolution should be in a civil way. They have the traits of Yazid. They sat on the chest of believer Abulfaz Bunyatov and poured vodka into his mouth. This reveals the real face of the Azerbaijani government. Misappropriation of power is the gravest crime. YAP has committed a serious offence by misappropriating power. They will get their deserved punishment. Their deserved place is a prison, just like some of them who are already there. Who would imagine that Eldar Mahmudov and Akif Chovdarov would have such a fate.” Bagirzade noted.
After that, Taleh Bagirzade read his appeal to Ilham Aliyev. In his appeal, he spoke about Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov’s involvement in the Nardaran incident, accused and criticised Usubov. “Mr Aliyev, you are a highly-educated person who can speak English. Perhaps, you will not find it difficult to understand my arguments on the fact that the booklet titled Taleh Bagirzade’s Appeal does not belong to me. My argument is that the text of this pamphlet alludes to the Nardaran incidents. The Nardaran incidents occurred on 26 November 2015. It is beyond doubt that I could not have written it when the Nardaran operation was carried out. It means that this booklet was written after I was arrested. As it would be impossible for me to prepare this booklet in the custody of the Main Organised Crime Department, then it means that the author of this pamphlet is not I, but your minister Ramil Usubov. Let’s come to what has been written in this booklet about you and your government using my name. The booklet refers to you as ‘thief Ilham Aliyev’ and your government as ‘a government, which is the embodiment of whoredom’. I want to tell Ramil Usubov and his team to not say their heartfelt words to Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva using my name. If you are man enough, say those words on your own behalf,” Bagirzade’s appeal read.
“Mr Aliyev! The reason for the oppression and injustices you and your government have done to Taleh Bagirzade for years is not because you are physically afraid of him. What really scares and shakes your government is the extraordinary love of Imam Hussein and his ideas, which Bagirzade carries in his heart. I assure you that you have hastened your government’s end by committing the Nardaran tragedy and shedding the blood of innocent people. If a government uses excessive force, it will lead to its own destruction. Finally, I dare you not to change my life sentence to another form of punishment. We are ready for not only a life sentence but also even execution or burning to death on a bonfire, for the sake of freedom and happy future of this great people. Let the God be a judge between you and us,” the appeal concluded.
The next defendant to make a final speech was Jahad Babakishizade. “A government, which sentence a cleric to life, will do anything to a peaceful citizen like me. Investigator Mikayil Guliyev has written on my behalf words that I never said. They did not treat us as people. That kind of savagery is unheard of. They were dragging people all over the place. I do not believe presiding judge Alovsat Abbasov, because he ignored the violations. The final say here belongs to those who have given the political instruction. You are nobody here. Sentence us to life as well. Do not separate us from Haji (Taleh Bagirzade). You have killed our four brothers, but their souls are with us,” the defendant said.
Thereafter, Etibar Ismayilov made a final speech. “I initially expected something fair from the court, but the court proved that it is not independent. Sentence us all to life. All of us have 21 charges, so give us all the same punishment. We would’ve become martyrs, but did not. Such was the will of God. The MOCD has invented a one-shell grenade. Allegedly, the grenade exploded, and only one shell hit this policeman in the chest and, not only that, it hit him under the armoured clothing. I have fought in Karabakh, but never saw a one-shell grenade. We could have retrieved Karabakh with the weapons that Ali Hasanov and Ilham Aliyev directed against us. Our blood will clean the filth off this country. The Nardaran events exposed their real face,” the defendant said.
Defendant Farhad Balayev made a brief final speech. “I have nothing to say but one word that this government is very dishonourable,” he said.
In his final speech, defendant Ramin Yariyev said the oppression had reached its peak in the country, and the government was afraid of its own shadow.
The next hearing was set for 18 January, 10.30 am.
Background: 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. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic has launched a criminal case in relation to the incident.
APFP Deputy Chairman 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.
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, repeatedly committed 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.