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The Press Service of the Prosecutor General’s Office has issued a statement on the arrest of REAL Movement Executive Secretary Natig Jafarli. Natig Jafarli was arrested on 12 August 2016. He was charged under Articles 192.1 (illegal business) and 308.2 (abuse of official powers – when such actions lead to serious consequences or are committed with the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election (referendum)) of the Criminal Code, and Nasimi District Court sentenced him to four-months of pre-trial detention.
“The Serious Crimes Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office continues the investigative proceedings on the criminal case launched on the basis of the materials submitted to the Prosecutor General’s Office by the Ministries of Finance and Justice regarding the facts of law violations revealed in the activities of a number of non-governmental organizations and branches or representative offices of foreign non-governmental organizations. A series of interrogation, inspection, search, seizure and other investigative actions have been carried out on the criminal case, and the information provided by competent state bodies about legalization of criminally obtained funds by Jafarov Natig Mehman oglu has been examined by the Ministries of Finance and Taxes, as well as the experts of the Council of State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations on the basis of a court decision. Reasonable suspicion has been established that, Natig Jafarov engaged in entrepreneurial activity as an official without establishing a legal entity during the years 2011-2014 and deliberately contrary to the interests of the service abused his official powers to gain unlawful advantage for himself, i.e. to generate income by avoiding payment of taxes, and ensured the transfer of funds amounting to 94,565 USD allocated by National Endowment for Democracy for the projects implemented directly by himself to his accounts at Bank Respublika OJSC’s Narimanov branch under grant agreements not registered with the relevant executive authority and then cashed this amount, and as the project manager exercising organizational and administrative functions hired workers to various positions and arranged cash payments to himself and those persons under the pretext of service fee or salary, and thereby performing illegal entrepreneurial activity under grant agreements not registered with the relevant executive authority and generating significant income amounting to 71,334 AZN, caused significant damage entailing heavy consequences to state interests protected by law. Natig Jafarov confirmed the above-mentioned facts in his statements provided within the case, and confirmed that he had not registered the grant agreements with the relevant executive authority, that he had received the allocated grant funds with the help of his friend and the-then co-chairman of REAL Movement Ilgar Mammadov with the aim of making a profit, and that as a natural person disposed of those funds for the projects headed by himself. Based on the reasonable suspicion that Natig Jafarov has committed the acts stipulated by Articles 192.1 (illegal business) and 308.2 (abuse of official powers – when such actions lead to serious consequences) of the Criminal Code, he has been charged and the measure of pre-trial detention has been selected in relation to him by the decision of the court. The investigation of the criminal case is currently underway at the Serious Crimes Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in its statement.
According to Natig Jafarli’s lawyer Javad Javadov, Nasimi District Court’s decision on pre-trial detention has been appealed. Javadov noted that Natig Jafarli’s tax compliance was examined by the tax authority in 2014 and he was unjustifiably sentenced to tax and financial sanctions of 873 AZN. “Despite being unjustifiable, this amount was paid by Natig Jafarli. I should also note that the time limit for prosecution under Article 192.1 (illegal business) of the Criminal Code, one of the charges brought against Natig Jafarli, has passed. The charges are completely groundless and unlawful,” the lawyer said.
Commenting on the statement released by the prosecutor’s office, IRFS chairman Emin Huseynov said it was no except that the charges filed against Natig Jafarli would also be filed against REAL’s imprisoned chairman Ilgar Mammadov. “On the eve of the upcoming referendum, the government will bring additional charges against Ilgar Mammadov to intimidate people and also to avoid the execution of the decision issued by the European Court in Ilgar Mammadov’s case in May 2014 (On May 22, 2014, European Court recognized violation of Ilgar Mammadov’s rights under Articles 5.1 and 5.4 (right to liberty), 6.2 (presumption of innocence) and 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.),” Huseynov added.
Background: Journalist Tofig Yagublu and REAL Movement chairman Ilgar Mammadov were arrested on February 4, 2013, in the wake of the protests that swept Azerbaijan’s north-western city Ismayilli on January 23, 2013 and resulted in the arson of the “Chirag” Hotel and 4 cars in the city. The protests broke out after the Chirag Hotel employee, Baku resident Emil Shamsaddinov caused a road accident due to drunk driving, after which he and his passenger, Baku resident Elmaddin Mammadov beat up and injured the Ismayilli resident Ramil Bakirov who was nearby, and insulted the local residents before the very eyes of the crowd, who had gathered in the area of incident. More than 15 people, who had participated in the protests, as well as Emil Shamsaddinov and Elmaddin Mammadov, were later arrested. Tofig Yagublu and Ilgar Mammadov travelled to Ismayilli one day after the protests, on January 24, in their capacity as a political figure and a journalist, to get firsthand information from locals about what had happened.
Yagublu and Mammadov were initially charged under Articles 233 (organization of actions promoting infringement of the public order or active participation in such actions) and 315 (resistance to a representative of authority) of the Criminal Code. Later, the charge under Article 233 was dropped, and a new charge under Article 220.1 (organization of mass disorders accompanied by violence, pillage, arson or destruction of property or participation in such disorders) was brought against them. By Shaki Grave Crimes Court’s judgment of March 17, 2014, Ilgar Mammadov was sentenced to 7 years and Tofig Yagublu to 5 years in jail. The appeal against the verdict was not granted by Saki Appeal Court. On October 13, 2015, Supreme Court sent the case back to Shaki Appeal Court for re-consideration. Shaki Appeal Court upheld the verdict by its decision of April 29, 2016. Journalist Tofig Yagublu, although released under the president’s pardon decree of March 17
On May 22, 2014, European Court recognized violation of Ilgar Mammadov’s rights under Articles 5.1 and 5.4 (right to liberty), 6.2 (presumption of innocence) and 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.