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On June 13 the Baku Grave Crimes Court held a hearing on the case of azadxeber.org news portal editor Nijat Aliyev. Judge Zeynal Agayev presided over the hearing. According to journalist’s lawyer Yalchin Imanov, two more witnesses testified at today’s hearing.
“The witnesses did not confirm their testimonies provided to the investigating agency. At today’s hearing witness Aslan Farzaliyev said Nijat Aliyev’s actions constituted no illegal elements. As it turns out, the investigation was conducted with serious legal violations. For example, last November witness Aslan Farzaliyev was taken from the Killer menswear store (in front of which Nijat Aliyev was arrested) to the Police Office #27, where he was held overnight and released the next afternoon. It is a significant legal violation. Another witness Rufat Bakhshiyev is involved in this case for merely knowing Nijat Aliyev and some of the other accused. This is completely illegal and groundless” said the lawyer and added that the trial will continue on June 20, at 10:30am.
Background: Nijat Aliyev was arrested on 20 May 2012, just a few days before Eurovision Song Contest Finals, on charges of drug possession.
On 26 January 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 220.127.116.11 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media). His pretrial detention was extended for two months by Nasimi District Court on February 15.
Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.