Taleh Bagirzade Tells Court He and His Comrades Were Subjected to Torture

August 3rd, 2016

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Summary: Hearing 3

 The public prosecutor read out the indictment bill at the hearing. According to the indictment, Taleh Bagirzade and his supporters created an organized group under the name of Muslim Union organization, divided responsibilities, collected money under the guise of donation and membership fee, made calls for forceful seizure of power and change of the constitutional structure of the state, and gave illegal instructions to the group members to commit acts of terrorism;
 The defendants rejected the charges and pleaded innocent;
 Defendant Taleh Bagirzade testified that he had been tortured at the time of arrest;
 Defendant Abbas Huseynov testified that he had also been tortured.

Baku Grave Crimes Court, chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov, held a preliminary hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement’s Chairman Taleh Bagirzade, Jabrayilov Rasim Mirzababa oglu, Mustafayev Zakir Tapdig oglu, Jabbarov Jabbar Amirkhan oglu, Babakishizade Jahad Babahuseyn oglu, Abdulaliyev Shamil Adil oglu, Ismayilov Agil Azer oglu, Yariyev Ramin Maharram oglu, Guliyev Abbas Abdulrahman oglu, Khudaverdiyev Ibrahim Mammad oglu, Ismayilov Etibar Rasim oglu, Asgarov Bahruz Rahib oglu, Nuriyev Ali Hasrat oglu, Valiyev Alibala Javad oglu, Balayev Farhad Nasraddin oglu and Tagizade Abbas Hafiz oglu, who are charged under Articles 120.2.1 (homicide, committed by a group of people, a group of people on preliminary arrangement, an organized group or a criminal community/organization), 120.2.3 (homicide, of the victim or his close relatives in connection to performance of service or public duty by the victim), 120.2.4 (homicide, committed with special cruelty or in publicly dangerous way), 120.2.7 (homicide, of two or more persons), 120.2.12 (homicide, with the motive of national, racial, religious hatred or enmity), 29 (attempted crime), 214.2.1 (terrorism, committed by a group of people on preliminary arrangement, an organized group or a criminal community/organization), 28 (preparing to commit a crime), 214.2.3 (terrorism, committed with use of fire-arms or objects used as a weapon), 214-2 (open calls for terrorism), 220.2 (incitement to active insubordination to lawful demands of a representative of authority and to mass disorders, as well as to violence against citizens), 228.3 (illegal acquisition, transfer, selling, storage, transportation or carrying of fire-arms, their accessories, supplies and explosives, committed by an organized group), 228.4 (illegal acquisition, selling or carrying of a gas weapon, cold steel, as well as a throwing weapon, except for places where carrying of a cold steel is an accessory of a national suit or is connected to hunting), 278 (violent seizure or retention of power), 279 (creation of armed formations or groups not provided for by the legislation), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people), 283.2.3 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, committed by an organized group), and 315.2 (resistance to or use of violence against a representative of authority) of the Criminal Code, Huseynov Abbas Mammadbagir oglu, who is also charged under Article 233 (organization of actions violating public order or active participation in such actions) of the Criminal Code in addition to the above charges, and APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli, who is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code. An armed incident occurred between a group of believers and policemen in Nardaran settlement of Baku on November 26, 2015, during an operation conducted by the police. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several believers were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched on the fact and is investigated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic. Fuad Gahramanli was arrested on December 8, 2015. His lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that Fuad Gahramanli was arrested due to his Facebook posts and his case was merged with the criminal case of the people arrested over the Nardaran incidents.
Announcement of indictment bill:

At today’s hearing, public prosecutor Nasib Bayramov announced the indictment. “Taleh Bagirzade and his supporters created an organized group under the name of Muslim Union organization, divided responsibilities, collected money under the guise of donation and membership fee, made calls for forceful seizure of power and change of the constitutional structure of the state, and gave illegal instructions to the group members to commit acts of terrorism. They united in an organized group to establish a religious state governed according to Sharia law. They called on people to riot and to seize power by force. Fuad Gahramanli made calls motivated by religious and racial hatred on his Facebook page on different dates, and called on the people to stand up in support of Nardaran people and to riot, and made calls inciting religious hatred and hostility,” the indictment bill read.

After that, the presiding judge asked whether the defendants accepted the charges. The defendants rejected the charges and said the indictment was scripted. They dubbed the indictment bill as a political repression bill made on behalf of the state.

Next, the presiding judge asked whether they considered themselves guilty to the charges. All of the defendants pleaded not guilty.

Defendants’ testimonies:

Muslim Union Movement’s chairman Taleh Bagirzade testified at the hearing. “In order to understand the Nardaran events, one should correctly analyze the events that led up to it. Prior to those events, Parliamentary Elections took place on November 1. We expressed our position that we would not recognize the election results and would boycott it. This was our stance. At that time, there was a discussion in the Milli Majlis (Parliament) that Muslim Union Movement needed to be punished. It happened before the election. As for the election, everyone saw how it was conducted. It could not even be called an election. The government’s nerves were stretched to the breaking point already, and it poured out its anger on Muslim Union Movement. I was summoned to Yasamal District Police Department on November 2. I stood up to perform Namaz (prayer), but the chief of the Department tried to prevent me by force. They baited me to call people to rebel, but I did not do that. I wanted it to be resolved within law. Seeing that no one rose up from our side, they committed Sabunchu provocation three days later. They kidnapped my deputy Elchin Gasimov from the front-yard of his house, gave him electric shock and tortured him. They stirred up havoc and alleged that Muslim Union wanted to stage a coup. On November 7, television channels, AZTV [spoke] about Muslim Union Movement’s leader and his deputies, in particular Fetullah Gulen’s channel Khazar TV committed violence against our beliefs by putting our pictures side by side with Al-Baghdadi, ISIS and other terrorist organizations and their leaders. The Nardaran operation is a plot devised in the kitchen of the Presidential Administration. I call this operation an “ostrich operation.” They buried their heads in the sand, but their bodies showed. The entire public and international organizations saw how primitive an operation it was. [It was] full of blunders. During one week starting from November 7, all TV channels showed us as terrorists. We did not fall for the provocations, because our struggle has been peaceful and civil. We have not had affiliation with any foreign organization. This is what worries them most. They want to give us a life sentence. But they should not forget that they won’t remain there for life, either. They cherry-picked two religious police officers and killed peaceful people,” Taleh Bagirzade said.

Taleh Bagirzade noted that, in his interviews and speeches following his release from prison, he had stated that establishing an Islamic state in Azerbaijan was impossible.

Taleh Bagirzade said the charges were trumped-up and all of their statements had been extracted under torture.

After that, Taleh Bagirzade answered the public prosecutor’s questions. Having been asked about the establishment date and the funding source of the Muslim Union Movement, Taleh Bagirzade replied: “The organization was established on January 3, 2015. Its purpose of establishment has been the expression of the national will. The organization’s documents have been submitted for state registration to the Ministry of Justice three times, but each time they were sent back. It has been funded through donations made by the organization’s members. We raised those donations and gave them to needy families and orphanages.”

Public prosecutor Nasib Bayramov asked what happened on November 26. “On November 26, I was performing Namaz (prayer) when black-masked men entered in and handcuffed us. The black-masked men entered in by shooting around outdoors. They threw us into a furniture truck. I was horrified as I got into the vehicle. There were dead bodies on one side and people mutilated by torture on the other side. Haji Farahim was still alive at that time. They beat him to death in the vehicle. When I was brought to the Organized Crime Department, they were taken aback by my appearance. My face was in a horrible state. They had beaten me in the face with the butt of a gun. They beat us so much in the vehicle that we became unrecognizable. After they threw me into the truck, they beat me in the face with the butt of a gun and broke my nose. They took us to the Organized Crime Department, where they threw us on the floor and kicked us. I was not myself for three days. Even when the investigator of the prosecutor’s office saw me, he said ‘it’s a bit too much, you shouldn’t have gone this far’,” Bagirzade added.

Another defendant by name Abbas Huseynov also testified at the hearing. He pleaded not guilty. “I do not expect a fair outcome from this trial. Therefore, I am going to testify not for the court, but to let the public know what really happened. The charges against me are trumped-up. I have been subjected to torture. I was wounded during the operation in Nardaran. For a long time, even my relatives did not know that I was alive, because there were false reports going around about my death. When they detained us and were transporting us in the truck, one of the masked men showed our brother Akbar’s body to me and said ‘it is me who have fired the bullets into his belly’. They beat me up from night till morning with my hands cuffed and head covered with a bag. They were forcing me to testify against those detained. They beat me so much that I could barely walk when being taken to the court for sanction. I walked there with support of two zombie police officers. To cover up their nastiness, they even bought me clothes and shoes to wear for the hearing. The lawyer appointed at the state’s expense and the judge did not even ask ‘why is this person’s face in this state?’ Prior to the arrest, Yasamal District Police Department’s Chief Isfandiyar Mehbaliyev called my mother and threatened to cause troubles for me. I requested that International Bank’s former chairman Jahangir Hajiyev testify in court as a witness in connection with the tortures inflicted upon me, because at that time he also was at the Organized Crime Department and witnessed the tortures inflicted on me and the traces of injuries on my body,” Abbas Huseynov said.

The next court hearing was set for August 4, 11.00am.