The court did not finally stop the criminal prosecution of the Yunus spouses

On Tuesday, the Baku Court of Appeal suspended the proceedings in the case of human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus. However, this decision does not relieve them of criminal prosecution.

Human rights activists – director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus were arrested in the summer of 2015 on charges of economic crimes and treason.

On August 13, 2015, Leyla Yunus was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison, and Arif Yunus  – to seven  years in prison. The couple denied the accusations, stating the political nature of the case.

After protests by international organizations, on December 9, 2015, the Baku Court of Appeal commuted the sentence of the Yunus spouses, replacing the prison sentence with a suspended sentence of five years each.

On April 19, 2016, with the consent of the court, the spouses left Azerbaijan for treatment. In the same year, the Supreme Court returned the case for review to the Court of Appeal, but due to the lack of convicts, the hearing was postponed.

Today, the Baku Court of Appeal terminated the proceedings due to the impossibility of considering the case due to the absence of the Yunus spouses.

According to lawyer Elchin Sadigov, the defense insisted on considering the case with the participation of the defendants online. The defense insisted on the termination of the criminal prosecution on acquittal grounds.

However, the court rejected the petition and did not remove the arrest from the apartment of the daughter of the spouses.

As the lawyer explained, despite the termination of the proceedings, the criminal prosecution against the Yunus spouses has not been withdrawn.

Court proceedings may be resumed if they arrive in Azerbaijan, or if a request is made for their detention abroad and extradition to Azerbaijan.

The Yunus spouses received political asylum in the Netherlands. Earlier, the European Court of Human Rights recognized the unlawfulness of the persecution of the Yunus spouses.

In their respect, a violation of the rights under Article 18 (limits of the use of restrictions) of the European Convention, that is, political motives, was recognized.

The case of the Yunus spouses is in the “Anar Mammadli group” – activists, on whose full justification, by the decision of the Strasbourg Court, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe insists.

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