July 1st, 2008

Today (1 July) a hearing was conducted on the cassation lawsuit filed by “Azadlig” newspaper Editor-in-chief Ganimat Zahid and the newspaper’s correspondent Agil Khalil.

Supreme Court Judge Anvar Shadiyev chaired the hearing. The journalists’ lawyer Elchin Sadigov told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that the judge didn’t fulfill their complaint. 

Last fall Minister of Economic Development Heydar Babayev filed a lawsuit in the Yasamal District Court against "Azadlig" Newspaper Editor Ganimat Zahid and "Azadlig" correspondent Adil Khalil on 5 September 2007 in connection with the 29 August 2007 "Azadlig" Newspaper article "Azerbaijanis Paid for Mathew Bryza's Wedding?" In the article it was written that Heydar Babayev paid for a significant part of Mathew Bryza and Zeyno Baran's wedding." Babayev claimed that this is defamation against him, and was therefore seeking the publication of a refutation and asked the court to bring Zahid and Khalil to criminal responsibility. Judge Svetlana Ahmadova adopted a decision ordering the newspaper to publish a refutation. The appeal of G. Zahid and A. Khalil was not fulfilled by the Appellate Court, and therefore they appealed to the Supreme Court.   

Recall that G. Zahid is currently imprisoned and was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment. Agil Khalil was beaten at the beginning of this year and then was stabbed in the chest. A black PR campaign is being carried out against him to cover up these crimes. Also, Khalil is not allowed to leave the country.