Today the Yasamal District Court held a preliminary hearing on Anar Mammadov’s lawsuit against Azadlig and Yeni Musavat newspapers. Anar Mammadov is the son of the Azerbaijani Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov.
Journalists were not allowed in the courtroom. Representatives of the defendant protested against this ban, but the plaintiff’s representatives were happy to let it stand.
Judge Elchin Gurbanov announced that only the legal representatives of the defendant and plaintiff could attend the hearing.
The representatives of the defendant left the courtroom to clarify this issue with the chairman of Yasamal District Court. In the meantime, the Judge changed his mind and declared the hearing open. He then postponed it to December 10, citing the absence of the defendant side.
Members of Dalga Youth Movement, employees of Yeni Musavat and Azadlig newspaper staged a protest in front of the court during the hearing, shouting slogans like “1 million AZN to eat bear kebab – 100 AZN for pensioner”, “Don’t force the newspapers to pay for your bear kebab!”, “Ziya Mammadov, put an end to enmity with the press!”, “Hands off the press and the bears”.
Mammadov appealed to the court citing personal humiliation and damage to his bussiness reputation, caused by a newspaper article called “Kamaladdin Heydarov’s bear eaten” (published in Azadlig on 1 July and in Yeni Musavat on 2 July, 2010). He is also protesting against another article called “Sheikh expelled Anar Mammadov out from Dubai” (published in Yeni Musavat on 14 September, 2010). Mammadov is demanding 250,000 AZN compensation from each newspaper.
In the first article, it was reported that at a rest stop in the Gabala region, Anar Mammadov spotted a bear and ordered the nearby restaurant to prepare it for him to eat. He promised to pay 1 million AZN. The second article claimed that Anar Mammadov and his friends were deported from Dubai for anti-social behaviour.