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On 14 August, jailed chairman of the opposition REAL Movement Ilgar Mammadov disseminated a statement regarding threats he received in prison. The statement reads as follows:
“During the more than two years that I have been in jail, representatives of the Penitentiary Service, despite having such authority, threatened me without any reason and ‘on behalf with instructions of the president’ that unless I write a pardon application I won’t leave prison safely. This threat was particularly emphasised by Colonel Imran Tagizade. I spoke about it one and a half years ago in my final speech at my trial.
At the same time, the European Court found that the true purpose of the authorities behind my arrest was preventing my political activities and silencing me.
Taking these factors into account, I refused to participate in an X-ray examination that the Penitentiary Service organised for all prisoners. X-ray is a dangerous tool and when used for evil purposes, it may create a not-immediately-identifiable health danger. Previously, I did not face any problems when refusing a similar examination.
Due to my refusal, acting deputy chief Emin Hasanov called me to his room on 14 August, insulted me in Russian using the most abusive expressions, threatened to beat me severely, and said that ‘You, who have sold himself to Europe, you should be thankful that you weren’t arrested as a traitor to homeland’.
In turn, I told him that I am ready I be X-rayed with the participation of reliable international experts, considering the potential risk that the threats entailed.
After that, Emin Hasanov threatened to turn the prisoners against me. As the threat increased and might create a problem for other prisoners as well, I agreed to be X-rayed with the participation of some prisoners, whom I knew better. But I have not received any response to my suggestion. I was also threatened during a meeting with the leadership. My right to use the phone has been restricted.
I reiterate that the responsibility for my health lies solely with the current government, and I call on all competent international and local organisations to keep focused on the issue of my safety”.
Background: Ilgar Mammadov was arrested in February 2013. On 17 March 2014, the Sheki Court of Grave Crimes sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment in connection with the Ismayilli riots of 23-24 January 2013. The sentence was later upheld by the Sheki Court of Appeals. The European Court of Human Rights has issued a judgment in his case, finding violations of his rights to liberty and presumption of innocence. Amnesty International has recognised Ilgar Mammadov as a prisoner of conscience.