Yasamal District Court, under judge Huseyn Safarov, held a hearing on the criminal case against the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Gundam-Khabar newspaper Shirin Jafarli, who stands charged under article 306.2 (non-compliance with a verdict, decision or other actions of court; committed by an official) of the Criminal Code.
The charges against Jafarli were brought by the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Justice on October 23, 2015, for failure to pay his tax debt in full. The fine was initially levied against him as part of another criminal case initiated in 2013. At that point, the Anti-Corruption Office under the Prosecutor General began to investigate the activity of Jafarli’s newspaper upon the request of the Press Council, and arraigned the chief editor on charges of evasion of taxes (in the amount of 71,428 manat) and abuse of official powers. On May 20, 2013, the Kapaz District Court of Ganja city handed down a 3-year suspended sentence to the journalist with a two-year probation period. Subsequently, Jafarli lost his appeals against this verdict in both the Ganja Appellate Court and the Supreme Court (on September 2, 2015).
At today’s hearing, the Yasamal District Court declared the judicial investigation on the case completed.
This was followed by the prosecutor’s speech, in which he requested a 5-year jail sentence for the journalist.
The journalist’s lawyer Zaur Niftaliyev requested the court to give him time to prepare the defense speech.
The next hearing was set for February 16, 11.00am.
In an interview after the hearing, Shirin Jafarli said it had been unjust of the court to impose a tax debt of more than 70,000 manat against him without grounds, and also unfair of the prosecutor to request a 5-year prison sentence for him for failing to pay off this amount.