Today, 30 June, in the Garadagh District Court, under the chairmanship of Judge Ismayil Khalilov, a hearing was held on the criminal case against the Editor-in-Chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers, Eynulla Fatullayev.
State Plaintiff Elchin Nagiyev spoke first during the hearing. He said that Fatullayev was a danger to the public and there are no elements in his case that would reduce the seriousness of his case. Therefore Nagiyev said that Fatullayev should be convicted under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding necessary limit for personal consumption and not intended for sale), and should be sentenced to three years of imprisonment. The prosecutor said Fatullayev should serve his term in a special regime prison.
Next, Fatullayev’s attorney Isakhan Ashurov spoke. He said that he did not expect a just and fair decision from this court. “The outcome of this hearing has been sketched in various offices, not here in court,” said Ashurov. The lawyer talked about various violations of Fatullayev’s rights. He said that an operational search should be conducted without court order only when it is urgent. However, this search was conducted without a court order and the journalist was not given an opportunity to contact his lawyer.
At the end of his speech, I.Ashurov asked the court to exonerate E. Fatullayev and inform relevant agencies and government entities about the illegal actions of the Chief and employees of Prison #12.
Fatullayev stated that this trial should have ended after Prison #12 Prison Chief spoke as a witness. In his speak, the prison chief said that narcotics could be planted in Fatullayev’s clothing or the journalist should even be strangled in prison. According to Fatullayev, this testimony confirmed that the charges against him are false.
In closing, Fatullayev said that Chief Prosecutor Zakir Garalov insulted him by calling him a drug addict before the culmination of the this trial and he intended to sue Garalov.
The trial is scheduled to continue on 1 July at 2 p.m., when E. Fatullayev will make his closing statements.
Many local and international observers were present at the trial today, including former OSCE Special Representative for Media Freedom Miklos Haraszti.
The European Court of Human Rights issued a decision regarding the case of imprisoned Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev. The decision states that the journalist should be released immediately and the Azerbaijani government should pay 27,822 EUR to Fatullayev in compensation.
Eynulla Fatullayev was arrested in the court hall on 20 April 2007 under the decision adopted 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 Eynulla 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 organs safety concerns. 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 pre-trial detention. Eynulla Fatullayev was then convicted under 213.2.2 (tax evasion).
Eynulla Fatullayev was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment on 30 October 2007 under the decision adopted by the Grave Crimes Court and was fined in the amount of 242 thousand 522 AZN.
On 29 December, 0.223 grams heroin was found on Fatullayev. Eynulla Fatullayev and his lawyer assess this incident as an operation set-up to prevent the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist in the near future. A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding necessary limit for personal consumption) and he was transferred to the Baku Investigative Prison #2 on 2 January. The investigation into the case was concluded and it is being considered in the Garadag District Court.
Realniy Azerbaijan has been published as weekly newspaper, and Gundelik Azerbaijan was published as a daily newspaper since 2005. Eynulla Fatullayev established the newspapers and was the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after the arrest of the editor-in-chief in 2007.