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Summary: Hearing #3
On 2 February, Baku Grave Crimes Court, chaired by Judge Zeynal Aghayev, held a preliminary hearing on the criminal case of theologian, expert in religious studies Zulfugar Mikayilov, Elman Aghayev, Faig Allahverdiyev, Mehman Guliyev, Mehman Mammadov, Eldar Bunyatov, Elkhan Hasanov, Mubariz Ibrahimov, Ali Huseynov, Ramil Seyfullayev, Ruzi Ismayilov and Jabir Aliyev.
At the hearing, defendant Elkhan Hasanov’s lawyer filed several motions regarding his client. His first motion sought removal of the search and seizure record from the evidence list. “Elkhan Hasanov has been in Karbala twice. He was in Karbala on 26 November 2015, when the incident took place in Nardaran. He was detained at the Iran-Astara border while returning from Karbala on 11 December and was taken to the Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD). There is no document about the inspection of his personal items and his person. After being held in MOCD custody for one day, a confession was extracted from him that allegedly he was in possession of a weapon. His confession reads that allegedly one grenade, one grenade lighter, one TNT block, and five copies of “Taleh Bagirzade’s appeal booklet” were found and seized from him. It happened on 12 December, i.e. one day after Elkhan Hasanov’s detention. After that, they went to Lankaran and drew up a record. The record was drawn up afterwards. Some of the judges and my colleagues here used to be an investigator in the past. They know that if an item is seized, its specifications should be described in the record in detail so that it cannot be changed later, i.e. it cannot be replaced by something else. A search and seizure should be conducted based on a court decision or in 4 circumstances specified in the law. On 12 December, a criminal record was drawn up. The investigator should have announced his decision to the family members [of the defendant]. Six persons have signed two of the three pages of the file, and the last page by seven individuals. The record is incomplete. The search and seizure record is unlawful and should be excluded from the list of evidence,” the lawyer said, also petitioning the court to examine the two attesting witnesses, who had been present during the search and seizure, as a witness.
Lawyer Ramiz Mammadov further filed a motion to interrogate Lankaran City Executive Power chief Taleh Garashov who had signed the character reference about his client Elkhan Hasanov. “The character reference portrays Elkhan Hasanov as a terrorist equivalent to Ben Laden. It says that Hasanov advocated and applauded the Nardaran incident. Garashov should be summoned and questioned as a witness,” the lawyer noted.
Defendant Elman Aghayev’s lawyer Akif Aliyev petitioned the court to discontinue the criminal prosecution of his client. “The criminal case should be terminated due to the violation of substantive and procedural norms. Violations accompanied the preliminary investigation. The persons, who have conducted the investigation, have had an irreverent approach to justice. A special ruling should be issued in respect of these individuals. The statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office accused Zulfugar Mikayilov and others of a grave crime and requested that serious actions should be taken against them. The fact that they were accused of a serious crime in the absence of a court decision is a violation of the presumption of innocence. Another violation is the operation conducted relating to Elman Aghayev’s arrest. Aghayev was taken to Lankaran City Police Department on 29 November. Before his arrest, H. Huseynov and E. Safarov came to his house, talked and had tea with him. Their other fellow villagers, including family members of the convicts Vugar Ismayilov and E. Aghayev, were also there. At that point, they heard a noise outside. He left home and saw police officers arguing with village people. Seconds later, former chief of Lankaran City Police Department Mohubbat Huseynov approached and told him that they needed to go to the Police Department. Aghayev agreed and asked what he needed to take on him, and Mohubbat Huseynov said ‘nothing, a little money is enough’. Aghayev had nothing else on him. He was convoyed to Bilasuvar accompanied by the deputy chief of Lankaran City Police Department Lieutenant-Colonel Elchin Safarov and police officer Huseyn Huseynov. There, MOCD employee, senior operative Elman Bayramov met him, and he was brought to MOCD. It has been noted that a phone and a tablet were found on him during the inspection, although he did not have a phone. E. Babayev had not been in E. Aghayev’s house, but it has been noted that he was also present during the search of his home. At MOCD, E. Aghayev was beaten up and tortured with the participation of Colonel Moshu Pashayev. I appealed to the prosecutor’s office regarding the lump on E. Aghayev’s head and asked for a tomography, but they did not conduct it. They put him through the hoop and unspeakable torture. They told him to confess to the weapons, but he did not agree to say that as a believer he could not do that. Then, they wanted him to admit to Taleh Bagirzade’s appeal booklet, and he was forced to agree. The lawyer assigned to him in Lankaran is Rahim Gurbanov. But E. Aghayev has not seen him as yet. R. Gurbanov operates in Baku. The record was drawn up with the participation of attesting witnesses Sultanagha Sultanov, who lives in Baku, and Arzu Gurbanov, who resides in Salyan. The signature on the record does not belong to E. Aghayev. They have forged his signature by signing on his behalf. At MOCD, Balakhan Huseynov and Vagif Sultanov were invited as attesting witnesses. B. Huseynov acts as an attesting witness in all cases related to Lankaran. He always attests to false staged events. They did not inform anyone when taking E. Aghayev to MOCD and keeping him in custody there. His rights were not explained to him upon detention. Although E. Aghayev was in the position to hire a lawyer, they assigned him one, so that this lawyer turned a blind eye to illegalities. E. Aghayev was kept in MOCD custody for 19 days. Only on 22 December, investigator Parviz Ibayev wrote me a letter saying that E. Aghayev was there. Despite me being there, an assigned lawyer took part in the investigation. This is a politically motivated case. The character reference is, in fact, a tip-off. It does not even have a date. E. Aghayev’s right of defence has been violated. During the investigation, I filed a motion for interrogation of the police mentioned above and attesting witnesses, but it was not granted. The criminal prosecution has been illegal and must, therefore, be discontinued,” the lawyer said.
Defendant Elman Agayev said he wanted to add to his lawyer’s motion and spoke about the tortures inflicted on him. “I was subjected to such a torture that is impossible to recount because there are women here, tortures that humiliate honour and dignity, which are incompatible with humanity. They threatened to do harm to my family. They inflicted such tortures that a person subjected to them would go for suicide if he is not knowledgeable about world and religion. When sentencing me to 4-month detention following the tortures, they took me to a judge by name Babak. They took me there by dragging me. There were signs of torture on my head. My complaint was not granted. You would not want not only your child but even your enemy to be tortured that way. Rahim Gurbanov was assigned as my lawyer. I want him to be summoned and examined as a witness,” Aghayev noted.
E. Aghayev’s other motion was about the investigation of phone conversations.
E. Aghayev also commented on the character reference provided him by the governor. “The character reference calls me a dangerous element and a separatist. How could I be both in Nardaran and Karbala at the same time? They were asking me whether I knew Taleh Bagirzade. I said I knew him. That is why I have been arrested. If so, they need to arrest thousands of people for knowing T. Bagirzade. Drug addiction is widespread in Lankaran. Lankaran tops the list for the number of AIDS patients. I have said this, and it is true. That is why I have been arrested. What is with the charges brought against me? Let them file the charges against me that are related to my speeches. I have never been in Nardaran. I am not a member of the Muslim Union Movement. How on earth could I have got “Taleh Bagirzade’s appeal booklet”? When in the heck did T. Bagirzade write it for me to be able to distribute it? I have been presented as a terrorist on TVs. My right to a presumption of innocence has been violated. I have never stood up against the state. I have always advocated the statehood. Everything written in the indictment bill is a lie and slander,” the defendant noted.
Lawyer Ramiz Mammadov also touched upon the weapons allegedly found on the defendants. “It is alleged that some of them bought the weapons from people they did not know. How can you purchase a weapon from someone you do not know? Some defendants allegedly found them in the waste-yard. Is the waste-yard an arsenal? Usually, people near the place of the incident are invited as attesting witnesses. But here, one of the attesting witnesses came from Salyan, another from Yevlakh, and the one concerning my client from Jalilabad. They are poor people who allegedly agree to travel to Lankaran from here, really? I want the court to pay attention to this,” the lawyer stressed.
After that, defendant Zulfugar Mikayilov’s lawyer Rustam Zulfugarov requested discontinuation of the criminal proceedings. “The indictment alleges that Z. Mikayilov had a revolver pistol without a cartridge, and weapons and ammunition were found in his house. The charges filed against T. Bagirzade have also been filed against Z. Mikayilov. I presented my warrant of attorney in 2015 but was not allowed to join the criminal case until 28 December. Z. Mikayilov had been subjected to psychological and physical torture before I joined the case. They psychologically tortured him by saying ‘we will strip you and disseminate your video everywhere’. This alone is enough for Z. Mikayilov to sign whatever required. The operatives say he had a gun when detained. There is a video of his detention. If you watch it, you will see there was no gun. That video gives ground to discontinue the criminal case. The linguistic expert report mentions Z. Mikayilov’s name only at the beginning and the end. The rest is T. Bagirzade’s speeches. What has Bagirzade to do here? Z. Mikayilov’s speeches on patriotism and statehood have been ignored. Allegedly, he was taken to MOCD for 1 hour, but he was held there for one month. On these grounds, the criminal proceedings should be terminated,” the lawyer argued.
Next, defendant Mehman Mammadov’s lawyer filed a motion to release his client from pre-trial detention to house arrest in consideration of the fact that he had a minor dependent on him.