Taleh Bagirzade’s Deputy Testifies in Court

Summary: Hearing #4

  • Defendant Elchin Gasimov testified about the injustices done to him following his arrest;
    Defendant Aghaali Yahyayev said he had provided the statement under duress.
On 27 January, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Mayil Bayramov held a hearing on the criminal case of the Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade’s deputy, Elchin Gasimov, and his 11 co-defendants; Nahid Gahramanov, Aghaali Yahyayev, Seyfaddin Shirvanov, Farhad Muradov, Ramil Aliyev, Elgun Akhundov, Vusal Alishov, Isa Ibrahimov, Seymur Aslanov, Ali Shahbazov and Amirali Aliyev.

Defendant Elchin Gasimov testified and spoke about the injustices done to him following his arrest. “They have infringed the rights of parents by separating them from their children. I have much to say about this criminal case. It is impossible to fit them all into one testimony. None of the actions carried out as part of the preliminary investigation was lawful. I have read the case file line by line during one month. There is no single proof of the charges filed against us. The indictment bill says that Muslim Union Movement has acted contrary to the law, and we wanted to establish a religious state. None of these claims has any basis and there is no valid evidence. All of them are false accusations. They have planted weapons and ammunition on us. Had we had those weapons, it would have been possible to retake Karabakh. When I came home on 5 November 2015, at around 7.20 pm, the police had already been waiting for me. They took me to Sabunchu District Police Department. As soon as we arrived at the Department, 12-14 persons attacked me and began to beat me without saying anything. I asked them what I had done wrong. They said: What are you after by saying you want a just society and try to build a just society? Who do you think you are to speak about a just society?” Is it a crime to create a just society? The desire to build a just society can only worry tyrants. If a person has the light of faith in his heart, he will have zero tolerance to oppression. I was subjected to unthinkable torture there. I was only able to cover my face so they do not hit me in the face. I do not want to repeat the insults thrown at me by the policemen. The next day, they drew up an administrative protocol; allegedly, I uttered expletives upon leaving the mosque. Reportedly, a police officer by name Emin Babayev invited me to discipline, but I disobeyed. When delivering the decision for my 30-day arrest, the judge thrice asked Emin Babayev whether I had resisted him and Babayev said no. The Court of Appeal upheld the detention decision. Following my arrest, the television channels started a campaign against us. They falsely portrayed us as terrorists. The prosecutor’s office submitted a protest against the decision on my 30-day imprisonment. The protest, which was filed on 27 November, referred to the testimony of a policeman who was yet to testify on 28 November. The prosecutor’s office has written that, allegedly, I injured policemen using an object as a weapon in front of Sabunchu District Police Department at around 10pm on 5 November. The decision on my administrative arrest, however, reads that I had already been brought to the Police Department at around 8pm. If so, then how could I be in front of the Department at 10pm? During the investigation and court proceedings in our case, the laws were trampled underfoot. Based on the above protest, the administrative arrest decision was repealed, a criminal case was launched by Sabunchu prosecutor’s office, and I was ordered detained for 3 months. From the court they brought me to the temporary detention facility of Sabunchu District Police Department. There, a policeman told me: Congratulations! We have killed Taleh Bagirzade and Zulfugar. Then, they took me to Baku Detention Facility in Kurdakhani. There, the quarantine section has an open-air walking area paved with asphalt. There was a bench fixed to the ground. Imagine, in the cold of December, they cuffed my hands to the bench. I was left there over the frosty night and suffered a lot of health problems as a result. Then, I was taken to the Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD). They kept me there from 14th to 24th of December and tortured me every single day. They were demanding that I speak against Taleh Bagirzade and say that he had handed us weapons and ammunition. They were telling me: Do this, lest no further charges are brought against you, and you go back to your kids with less severe charges. I told them that Taleh Bagirzade also had children. Then, they said: Do you know, it is Ali Karimli who has got you arrested. They wanted to have me testify against him. I said: I have seen that person just once during the congress of APFP and we greeted each other. What can I testify about him? There, they were subjecting me to such tortures that I do not want to speak about them not to make you sick. God is great. Thankfully, I endured those tortures and did not testify against anyone. They threatened to arrest my father. I therefore admitted the allegation that a weapon had been found in our house and that, allegedly, I had found it in the waste-yard and brought home. The indictment bill reads that, allegedly, a grenade, a Makarov pistol and a booklet titled “Haji Taleh Bagirzade’s appeal” were found under a mattress in our house. Taleh Bagirzade did not have such a booklet at all. They devised it themselves after our arrest. During familiarisation with the case materials, I asked to see that brochure. I read it and saw that they had written “Stop oppressions against Elchin Gasimov and Elman Aghazade” on Taleh Bagirzade’s behalf. Elman Aghazade was detained after Taleh Bagirzade. How could Bagirzade demand an end to the oppressions against Aghazade in that booklet beforehand? They have planted those weapons and the booklet themselves. Because of my refusal to testify against the people that they demanded, they threatened to kill me on the pretext of jailbreak. I appeal to the public from here: Just so you know that if they kill us on such pretexts, it will be their own fabrication. I do not plead guilty to any of the charges. All of the charges filed against us are a slander,” Gasimov said.

Next, defendant Aghaali Yahyayev testified and recounted the tortures inflicted upon him. “I have been subjected to pressure. I gave the statement under duress. On 5 November 2015, I came to the front of Sabunchu District Police Department in connection with Elchin Gasimov’s arrest and was myself arrested, too. After I had been arrested, the tortures began. They tore apart our clothes and stripped us. The injustice they did to use had never been seen in Azerbaijan before. They, literally, wiped the floor with our bodies in Sabunchu District Police Department. They committed degrading and immoral acts towards us. Every part of my body has been electrocuted. People, who lack manliness, wanted to humiliate our manliness. They said they would castrate us. They behaved more basely than Armenians. They told us: Do you fight against Kurds? We are Kurds. How could I remain silent when a person whom I respect, Elchin Gasimov, was tortured? In front of the Police Department, the policemen were bludgeoning people. They slashed my eye open. It took my eye 20 days to heal. I have always said my word bluntly. I won’t abandon my beliefs even if they sentence me to life. They want to provoke hatred in us through tortures. But we do not hate those who fulfil orders. I do not hate the prosecutor, either. We hate those who command them. The authorities want to create a gap between the believers and the people. None of these people should have been here. I agree to be arrested but release these people. Nothing like Taleh Bagirzade’s booklet ever existed. Even investigator Parviz Ibayev knows this pamphlet is the product of their brains. We did not have any firearm. It is our speeches that are fiery. We have never gone against statehood. They made us sign blank papers in MOCD,” the witness said.

The next hearing on the case was set for 3 February, 2 pm.

Background: Muslim Union Movement deputy chairman Elchin Gasimov was arrested on 5 November 2015. He was initially charged under Article 310 (wilful disobedience to lawful requirements of a police officer) of the Administrative Violations Code and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Afterwards, a criminal case was initiated against him, and he was arrested. He and his co-defendants were charged with terrorism; incitement to terrorism; incitement to active disobedience to lawful demands of the representative of authority, riots and violence against citizens; illegal acquisition, transfer, selling, storage, transportation and carrying of firearms, accessories and ammunition as an organised group; violent seizure or retention of power; formation of armed groups not provided for in the legislation; making open appeals against the state; instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility as an organised group; forgery, illegal production and selling of official documents, state awards, seals, stamps and forms, or knowing use of fake documents; hooliganism; and, resistance or use of violence against the representative of authority.

Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade was arrested during an operation conducted in Nardaran on 26 November 2015. Bagirzade stood trial in Baku Grave Crimes Court along with 17 other men including APFP deputy chairman Fuad Gahramanli. On 25 January, the Court sentenced Bagirzade to 20 years, Gahramanli to 10 years, and others to between 10 and 20 years in jail.

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