Prosecutor Seeks Jail Sentence for Critical Journalist Ganimat Zahid’s Relatives

June 10th, 2016

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Summary: Hearing 11

 Making a speech at the hearing, public prosecutor Elchin Gafarov said the defendants’ offences were proven through material evidence in the case, witness testimonies and expert opinion. He asked the court to issue a verdict of guilty against the defendants. The public prosecutor requested an 8.5-year jail sentence for Rufat Zahidov by considering the fact that he had one underage child as a mitigating circumstance. The prosecutor requested an 8.5-year jail sentence for Rovshan Zahidov, too;
 Rufat Zahidov’s lawyer Bahruz Bayramov made a speech and asked for his client’s acquittal.

Baku Grave Crimes Court, under chairmanship of Judge Eldar Mikayilov, continued the hearing on the criminal case of Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov, who are arraigned on drug charges. Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov are relatives of Ganimat Zahid, the editor-in-chief of Azadliq newspaper and the host of the Azerbaijani Hour TV program who currently lives in exile in France. Rufat Zahidov is Ganimat Zahid’s nephew and Rovshan Zahidov is his cousin. Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov were arrested in July 2015, and are charged under Articles 234.4.1 (illegal manufacturing, processing, purchase, storage, transfer, transportation or selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances – on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons) and 234.4.3 (- in large amount) of the Criminal Code.

Public prosecutor’s speech:

Speaking at the hearing, public prosecutor Elchin Gafarov pointed out that although during the preliminary investigation Rufat Zahidov said the drugs found on him and in his car belonged to him, he later denied it saying that the drugs had been planted on him and on his car by police officers.

Regarding Rovshan Zahidov, Elchin Gafarov said that although during the preliminary investigation Rovshan Zahidov admitted his fault saying that the drugs found on him was given by his relative Rufat Zahidov on July 18, 2015 for storage, later during the trial he did not plead guilty at all. He had allegedly made the “confession” under duress exerted by police officers during preliminary investigation.

The public prosecutor then said that despite of the defendants’ plea of not guilty, they were proven guilty during the trial through the material evidence in the case, witness testimonies and expert opinion. He asked the court to issue a verdict of guilty against the defendants. The public prosecutor requested an 8.5-year jail sentence for Rufat Zahidov by considering the fact that he had one underage child as a mitigating circumstance. The prosecutor requested an 8.5-year jail sentence for Rovshan Zahidov, too.

Lawyer’s speech:

After that, Rufat Zahidov’s lawyer Bahruz Bayramov made a speech. “I believe that even if I speak for 24 hours here, it will be no good. But as a lawyer, I will make the speech anyway.

“My client Rufat Zahidov allegedly went to Shamakhi region together with his family members on July 18, and there, he met with Rovshan Zahidov and gave him drugs to keep. In fact, however, Rufat Zahidov did not have any contact whatsoever with Rovshan Zahidov. He last saw him at a wedding 2 years ago. They even don’t know each other’s phone numbers. Plus, there are witness testimonies confirming that they did not see each other on July 18, 2015. Afterwards, Rufat Zahidov was arrested on July 21. My client’s right of defense was violated. Rufat Zahidov was subjected to pressure, and his lawyer arrived at 9 o’clock in the evening. I am not making this up; this all was proven during the trial. One of the attesting witnesses says that he gave evidence as an attesting witness at 6 o’clock, which means that this person was held there till 6 o’clock. The attesting witnesses’ rights and duties were not explained to them. The protocols they have signed are hence unlawful,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer believes that the only reason Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov were prosecuted is Ganimat Zahid’s political activity, as “they are not engaged in politics, they are poor people working for daily subsistence, and they are innocent.” “They did not have any contact with Ganimat Zahid. I even resorted to an unacceptable option; I had them write statements of disowning Ganimat Zahid and sent them to state bodies, so that innocent persons having no political activity would be released. Punishing someone for others’ activities is a big injustice. The investigators and law enforcement officials who make these unlawful decisions should know that their children will answer for their fathers’ unlawful actions in the future,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer asked for Rufat Zahidov’s acquittal.

After that Rovshan Zahidov’s lawyer Tahir Khanaliyev wanted to take the floor, but the presiding judge said there were many other cases on the docket to be heard and postponed the hearing until June 20, 16.00.