Newspaper founder receives suspended sentence

May 20th, 2013

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Gundam Khabar newspaper founder and editor Shirin Jafari received  a three-year suspended sentence with the initial two years being probation on tax evasion charges (Article 213.2.2 of the Criminal Code).  The sentence also included a 71,000 AZN fine for tax evasion. On May 20th KapazDistrictCourtofGanjaCity held a hearing on the case of Jafari where the verdict was announced.

As Jafari said in his interview to Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, the judge heard the speeches by the defense. As such, in his address Jafari answered questions related to the circulation of the newspaper, salaries of staff members, etc. and stated that the decisions of the Ministry of Taxes and the Anti-Corruption Office are unfair. So he asked the judge to make an objective and fair decision.

In turn, the public prosecutor requested five year imprisonment for the Gundam Khabar founder.

Background: Anti-Corruption Office under the General Prosecutor’s Office has filed a criminal case against the Gundam Khabar newspaper founder Shirin Jafari under articles 213.2.2 (tax evasion) and 308.1 (abuse of position) of the Criminal Code. The criminal case was opened following a request by the Press Council for the investigation of the newspaper’s activities. The Press Council accused the newspaper of ignoring citizens’ right to personal privacy, disseminating information insulting citizens’ honor and dignity, and regularly violating journalism ethics. According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation revealed that Jafari violated not only the principles of the law on mass media, but also the tax legislation; in particular, financial statements necessary for tax calculation have not been provided, accounting has not been carried out, the number of printed copies has not been provided, cash transaction reporting requirements have been violated, and 68,244 AZN in tax has been evaded. All of this taken into account, Jafari was required to pay 107,000 AZN fine. In turn, the editor appealed to the court with request to revoke this decision.

Gundam Khabar newspaper is published since June, 2009.