Opposition Party Activist Sentenced to 8 Years in Jail in Nakhchivan

February 2nd, 2016

 

 

Zeynalabdin Bagirzade, an activist with the Babek district branch of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), has been sentenced to 8 years in prison by Babek District Court. Bagirzade was arrested on November 17, 2015 and charged under article 315.1 (resistance to a representative of authority) of the Criminal Code. However, during the trial proceedings, it turned out that the charge brought against him had been amended to article 315.2 (resistance to a representative of authority, with use of violence that is dangerous to life). According to the indictment, he had assaulted employees of the Babek district Social Protection Fund. However, his relatives say that it was in fact the other way around; that Zeynalabdin Bagirzade himself was assaulted by the employees of the Social Protection Fund, who had come to Zeynalabdin’s house when he was not at home, and insulted his family in relation to social security payments. Later, when Zeynalabdin went to the Social Protection Fund and asked for an explanation, they assaulted him and insulted him. Zeynalabdin filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, but ended up under arrest. 

 

The first hearing on Zeynalabdin’s case was held in Babek District Court on January 8, 2016, without the knowledge of his family. The subsequent two hearings were held on January 18 and 27. During the hearings, all the Social Protection Fund employees were questioned as witnesses, and all testified against Zeynalabdin Bagirzade.

 

During the investigation, Zeynalabdin was provided with a court-appointed attorney, who was later replaced by another court-appointed lawyer when the first attorney refused to attend the court hearings.

Since his arrest, Zeynalabdin Bagirzade has been unable to meet with his family members. His family’s appeals to the Penitentiary Service and to the court have not resolved the problem. Zeynalabdin’s family claims that he was tortured upon arrest.

 

Zeynalabdin Bagirzade was previously arrested on December 26, 2011, for alleged disability fraud (fraudulently obtaining a Chernobyl disabled person status for himself and four close relatives). He was charged under article 310 (impersonation of a public official), 320.2 (deliberate use of counterfeit documents), and 178.3.2 (fraud). On March 2, 2012, Nakhchivan Serious Crimes Court sentenced him to 7.5 years in jail. On May 14, 2012, the Board on Serious Crimes of the Supreme Court of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic commuted his jail sentence to a suspended sentence with 4 years probation.