On 4 April the Lankaran Grave Crimes Court, under the presiding judge Nizami Guliyev, held a hearing on the case of xeber44.com website editor Araz Guliyev. As journalist’s lawyer Fariz Namazli told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), the judge heard the defense lawyers’ speeches and defendant’s closing statement.
According to Namazli, public prosecutor Zohrab Aliyev requested the judge to convict the journalist of the charges initiated against him and sentence him to 9 years in prison.
“In my speech, I stated that the charges filed against my client had not been proved and witness testimonies were conflicting. So, I requested the judge to acquit Guliyev”, said Namazli.
In his turn, the journalist did not plead guilty of the charges and stressed that his arrest was politically motivated and related to critical articles that he wrote” said the lawyer.
Namazli said that the judge is going to announce the verdict on April 5.
Background: Araz Guliyev was arrested on September 8th on charges of attempting to prevent an international folklore festival in Masalli region, and causing bodily harm to ordinary people and police officers. On December 11th the previous hooliganism charge against Guliyev was replaced by five new charges, under Article 228.1 (illegal possession of fire arms), Article 233 (violation of public order), Article 283.1 (inciting national, racial, ethnic or religious animosity and hostility), Article 315.2 (resistance and violence against a representative of the authority) and Article 324 (insulting the national flag or emblem of the Azerbaijan Republic) of the Criminal Code. Araz Guliyev rejects the charges, claiming that he was arrested for his journalistic and religious activities.