NIDA Member Elgiz Gahraman Sentenced to 5.5 Years in Jail

  • • Elgiz Gahraman made his final speech in court. He called the criminal case fabricated and demanded his acquittal;
    • The youth activist was sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison.

On 16 January, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Azad Majidov held a hearing on the criminal case of NIDA Civic Movement member Elgiz Gahraman.

Elgiz Gahraman made a speech at the hearing, calling the charges and the criminal case trumped-up. “The witnesses testified in court that they were present during my arrest, although I only saw them at the Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They claimed that I was wearing blue jeans while, in fact, I was wearing shorts. They only guessed the colour of my shoes correctly, which they might have seen at the MOCD. They could not correctly describe our apartment, either. They have written that we have two rooms parallel to each other, but our flat has three bedrooms and has a right angle layout. They did not even know our address. They cannot correctly describe the address they had been to. One time, the police in Adana, Turkey detained two men, who were fed up with the hot weather, so they shot at the sun. The charges against me are as absurd as firing at the sun. The mud you are throwing at me won’t stick,” Gahraman said.

The defendant noted that the statements of the police operatives, who were involved in detaining him, were not true, either. “Allegedly, they searched our apartment together with me after my detention. I saw most of those operatives only at the MOCD. They ‘found’ 3 books in our home, which are allegedly religious literature. One of the books is in Russian. I do not know Russian at all,” Gahraman noted.

He pointed out that the statements of all 5 operatives were identical and did not differ from each other a bit. “The one who planted drugs on me is Shahlar Jafarov. He was telling me jokes about an elephant and a rabbit, all day long. In all the jokes, he was the elephant and I was the rabbit. He was threatening to assault and torture me. According to the division chief Karim Alimardanov’s statement, I have not been in his room. If necessary, I can recite from memory everything from his room’s size to the items inside the chamber,” the activist said.

Elgiz Gahraman expressed his dissatisfaction with the forensic medical examination report. “They asked me whether I had any traces of injuries. I said I had several on my forehead, finger and knee. They wrote that all of them had been formed during the past one and a half years. The signs of injury on my forehead and finger are from years ago. My knee, however, was injured when I was beaten up at the Department. I told the doctor that they had kicked me in the groin, as well. The doctor asked me ‘Have you become impotent?’ I said no, the doctor replied ‘Then no problem’,” Gahraman said.

Elgiz Gahraman said the charges filed against him are entirely fabricated, and he never possessed any drugs. “They wrote that I had allegedly found the drugs on the ground on my way home. We are in Azerbaijan, not in Columbia where you can accidentally find drugs on the ground. I had not returned home at all that day. They filed drug trafficking charges against me. They had been hounding me for several days. Why then did they not bust me when I was selling drugs, if I really was a drug dealer? The operatives had stated that they did not enter my office. In reality, they had searched the office and taken away a computer,” the defendant said.

According to Gahraman, they had asked for his Facebook account during interrogation. “They looked through my posts and did not understand most of them, because I posted scientific information in Turkish and some links. They asked me mainly two questions ‘Have you studied in Turkey and do you believe in God?’ I said yes and they concluded that I was a Fetullah supporter. Allegedly, I have tried to meet with Fetullah Gulen while in Turkey. Later, seeing that those accusations were baseless, they did not reveal that statement. If they arrested me for a Facebook post consisting of just 4 words made up of 14 symbols, the sentence requested for me is extremely severe. I asked the police why they arrested me. They said ‘you are not guilty, we could not find anything, but you are a dangerous person’. I have suffered financially and psychologically due to my arrest. I was preparing to give lessons at a school, I was planning to marry, but everything was ruined. I consider my arrest politically-motivated and ask for my acquittal,” Elgiz Gahraman said in conclusion.

The court announced the judgment following a deliberation. Judge Azad Majidov said the charges against Elgiz Gahraman were proven and pronounced the verdict sentencing him to 5 and a half years in jail.

Note that the public prosecutor had requested a 6-year prison term for the youth activist.
Background: the officers of the MOCD of the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained Elgiz Gahraman on 12 August 2016. He was charged under Article 234.4.3 (illegal production, manufacturing, purchase, storage, transportation, transfer or selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances) of the Criminal Code, and was preliminarily arrested by the decision of Narimanov District Court.

Elgiz Gahraman himself and the NIDA Civic Movement stated that he was arrested for political reasons.

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