PRELIMINARY COURT HEARING HELD ON EYNULLA FATULLAYEV’S LAWSUIT AGAINST PROSECUTOR OFFICE

September 23rd, 2010

Sabael District Court held a preliminary hearing on imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev’s lawsuit against Baku City Prosecutor’s Office on September 23rd. Judge Elnur Hasanov presided over the hearing.

The plaintiff Eynulla Fatullayev and Baku City Prosecutor’s Office Public Relations officer Ramiz Rzayev, the defendant’s representative, attended the hearing.
Before considering the case, the Judge offered both sides a truce. Eynulla Fatullayev said he would withdraw his lawsuit if the Baku City Prosecutor’s Office officially confirmed a violation of his right to presumption of innocence. But Ramiz Rzayev, representing the defendant, rejected the proposal.
The Judge scheduled the court hearing for 3:30 pm on September 7th.
The judge didn’t allow audio and video recording in the preliminary court hearing. He vowed to allow limited the time for journalists in the next court hearing.
BACKGROUND
On February 2, 2010, the Baku City Prosecutor Office accused Eynulla Fatullayev of using drugs. Fatullayev called the dissemination of such information about him  a violation of both the European Human Rights Convention Article 6 Clause 2, Criminal and Procedural Code Article 21 and the Azerbaijani Constitution Article 63. He filed a lawsuit demanding that the Baku City Prosecutor Office apologize for the distributing the and for the public misperceptions that may have been created. He also requested that the judge  rule on taking one AZN from the Baku City Prosecutor Office and paying it to the Garadag District Court Judge Ismayil Khalilov for the legal consequences caused by violation of right to innocence presumption.
On April 20th, 2007, Fatullayev was arrested in the court hall based on the decision by the Yasamal District Court on the lawsuit of Refugee/IDP Rights Defense Committee chairperson Tatyana Chaladze. After his arrest, a criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the National Security Ministry Chief Investigative Office regarding an article published in Realniy Azerbaijan newspaper, which according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs caused foreign citizens and representatives of international organizations to fear for their safety. He was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to a pre-trial detention. Fatullayev was then convicted under 213.2.2 (tax evasion). Fatullayev was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison on  October 30, 2007 and was fined 242,522 AZN under the decision of the Grave Crimes Court.
On the 29th of December, 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin was found on Fatullayev in Prison #12.
A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department. On the 6th of July 2010, Fatullayev was found guilty under article 234.1 (illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding the necessary limit for personal consumption) of the Criminal Code. His two-and-a-half year sentence began on this date. Fatullayev and his lawyer believe that this incident was a set-up in order for the court to avoid complying with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist's release.   
On the April 22, 2010, the ECHRruled that Fatullayev should be released immediately, and that the Azerbaijani government should pay 27,822 EUR to Fatullayev in compensation. The Azerbaijani government filed an appeal with the Grand Chamber of the ECHR regarding this decision. Fatullayev is recognized as a prisoner of conscience by local and international organizations.

Eynulla Fatullayev was the founder and editor-in-chief of “Realniy Azerbaydjan” weekly newspaper and “Gundelik Azerbaycan” daily newspaper, published since 2005. after the arrest of the editor-in-chief in 2007, both newspapers stopped operation.