Poet Saday Shakarli Sentenced to 10 Years in Jail

saday sekerli

Summary: Hearing 9

 Lawyers Fakhraddin Mehdiyev and Bahruz Bayramov made speeches at the hearing and asked for the discontinuance of the criminal case against poet Saday Shakarli on exculpatory grounds;
 Saday Shakarli made a speech and related his arrest to his criticism of President Ilham Aliyev;
 The court sentenced Saday Shakarli to 10 years in prison.

Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Afgan Hajiyev held a hearing on the criminal case of poet Saday Shakarli, who was arrested on December 23, 2015 and is charged under Article 182.3.2 (extortion of a large amount of property) of the Criminal Code. He is accused of extorting 10,000 AZN by threatening to publish revelatory, discrediting and fictitious articles and to disseminate defamatory information about a senior official of the Ministry of Taxes on the mass media.

Lawyers’ speeches:

Lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev spoke first at the hearing:

“As the defense, we believe that the current criminal case lacks corpus delicti. Our position is that poet Saday Shakarli’s action did not constitute a crime, and therefore, the criminal case should be discontinued. We had filed a motion for the discontinuance of the criminal case during the preliminary investigation phase as well. Unfortunately, our motion was not granted. Saday Shakarli should be acquitted for lack of corpus delicti in his act,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer noted that Saday Shakarli did not plead guilty to the charges brought against him from the start and rejected all charges, believing that he was arrested because of his book titled “Wolf’s Heart.”

“Article 182 of Criminal Code, i.e. extortion of property by threats, is a specific article. Its specificity lies in the fact that there is even a decision of Constitutional Court Plenum about it. The said decision sheds light on certain points. These points are the following: this crime has multiple objects, the first of which is property and the second is the honor and dignity of the person. The Constitutional Court pays special attention to the reality of the danger referred to in the charges filed. If there actually are threats and humiliating information, they should be real. But in the case at hand, no real threat is the case. We believe that there is no evidence in the present criminal case, except for speculations, fabrications and obscurity. Even the victim himself is mysterious. According to the indictment, the victim is “senior officials of the Ministry of Taxes.” If there’s no concrete victim, you cannot talk about the object of the crime,” Fakhraddin Mehdiyev added.

The lawyer stressed that the charges were both illegal and unfounded. “They’re illegal because they are neither in accordance with the Constitution, nor with the laws. They’re unfounded because there is no evidence or grounds to prove the charges.”

“Saday Shakarli is a well-known member of the literary community. He is also a member of the Writers’ Associations of Russia and Bashkiria, and a person representing our country at international level. Saday Shakarli suffers from diabetes, which have further worsened after he was arrested. He is the head of a family and has an underage child. We ask you to factor in these facts. We ask you to make a fair decision,” the lawyer said.

After that, lawyer Bahruz Bayramov made a speech. “Saday Shakarli has not committed any crime. It’s clear to everyone. Saday Shakarli has written a book titled “Wolf’s Heart”, on the cover and inside of which he wrote “I express my gratitude to Mr. Fazil [Mammadov] for everything he has done.” Fifty copies of this book have been seized, but not added to the criminal case, although it’s the main reason Shakarli was arrested. If he is thanking the Minister, then who is the senior official of the Ministry of Taxes about whom he disseminates humiliating information? Poet Saday Shakarli is behind bars for the critical opinions that he has written in the book. There is every reason to acquit him. We ask you to discontinue the criminal case on exculpatory grounds,” the lawyer noted.

Defendant’s final speech:

Then, Saday Shakarli made his final speech. “It’s clear that these charges are nonsense. There has always been injustice, but justice is eventually restored. In civil countries, asking court to make a fair decision is regarded as rudeness and contempt of court. If you render the decision against me on order, then fulfill 3 requests of mine: first off, issue the decision against me not on behalf of the state, but on behalf of Ilham Aliyev, because I am charged due to the book that I have written against Ilham Aliyev. Let everyone know that I am sentenced not on behalf of my state. It’s the president who got me arrested. Secondly, if I am imprisoned, exchange me with my compatriots in Armenian captivity. Because I am a captive here, I am the captive of my nation and my people. I ask the media workers to inform all embassies and international organizations of this injustice. This is not everything I have gone through. I cannot speak of everything. But I will definitely talk to the media about it some time. Thirdly, please accept my declaration of renouncing my Azerbaijani citizenship. Please! I don’t want to live in such a country,” Saday Shakarli said during his final speech.

According to the court’s judgment, Saday Shakarli was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Recall that, at the hearing held on May 11, public prosecutor Abisalam Heydarov requested the court to sentence Saday Shakarli to 10 years in prison.

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