Today, on October 31, a court hearing was held on the case of azadxeber.org editor-in-chief Nijat Aliyev in the Baku Court on Grave Crimes, under chairmanship of Judge Zeynal Agayev.
Making a speech, public prosecutor said he deemed the committed offense to be a crime committed by an organized group and requested the judge to sentence journalist Nijat Aliyev to 10 years in prison.
The journalist’s attorneys asked for a time to prepare their speeches and the judge granted their motion.
In an interview with IRFS after the hearing, lawyer Yalchin Imanov said he considers all these to be what he called “legal immorality”. He believes journalist Nijat Aliyev and all other arrested youths alongside him are innocent and they were targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Imanov added that he heard about Judge Zeynal Agayev’s involvement in corrupt activities, of which he’s informed the Judicial-Legal Council.
The next hearing on the journalist Nijat Aliyev’s case will be held on November 4, 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: 126.96.36.199 (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.