Regional official sues journalist for defamation over a bribery report

Zabil Mugabiloglu

Suleyman Bashirov,  the Head of Culture and Tourism Department of  Imishli  region, has filed a defamation case in Narimanov  District Court against editor of and employee of the newspaper Yeni Musavat, Zabil Mugabiloglu (Najizade).

The lawsuit was filed  due to an article published on on May 30, which is entitled “Attestation bribe by William Hajiyev.”

According to the article, employees of the department of culture and tourism in Imishli region are demanded bribe by Suleyman Bashirov for successful attestation. 

The lawsuit is set to be heard on June 17. However journalist argues that the matter should not be settled in Narimanov district court, as neither him, nor the website is registered in this district. Editorial office was located in Narimanov district until May 15, 2013.

Moreover, the journalist said that he’d received the bribery report from employees of the said department.

Lawyer of  Media Rights Institute, Khalid Agaliyev commenting on the lawsuit, said that the country’s media law allows filing defamation lawsuits against on-line media. However, it is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, and precedent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on Azerbaijan which indicated the need for the abolition of criminal penalties for defamation.

Note that Article 147.2 (defamation) of the Penal Code, under which the claim was filed, provides for up to three years in prison.

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