Third Nardaran Trial: Defendants Plead Not Guilty

Summary: 5th hearing

➢ Ali Huseynov’s lawyer Zibeyda Sadigova filed a motion to allow her client to sit next to her. Public prosecutor Ali Aliyev asked for the motion to be denied. The court did not grant the motion;
➢ Ruzi Ismayilov’s lawyer Shahla Humbatova filed a motion to allow for audio and video recording of the hearing. The presiding judge rejected this motion, too;
➢ The public prosecutor read out the indictment bill;
➢ Lawyer Bahruz Bayramov filed a motion to send an information request to the plant, where the weapons ‘found’ on the defendants had been produced. The proposal was left undecided;
➢ Defendant Eldar Bunyatov testified and called the charges trumped-up.

On 13 February, Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Zeynal Aghayev continued the hearing on the criminal case of theologian 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, Ali Huseynov’s lawyer Zibeyda Sadigova filed a motion to allow her client to sit next to her. “It has repeatedly been stressed in the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights that keeping the person inside an enclosed glass dock degrades him and undermines his confidence. Ali Huseynov is not considered a convict yet. I want to consult with my client, but there is no opportunity for this. Each time, I have to put my mouth or ear to the glass dock. This is not right,” the lawyer noted.

Public prosecutor Ali Aliyev requested that the motion is rejected. The court did not grant the motion.

After that, Ruzi Ismayilov’s lawyer Shahla Humbatova filed a motion to allow for audio and video recording of the hearing. “This case is of public interest. It is physically impossible for the court stenographer to write down everything spoken at the trials. To give a correct assessment of the events at the end and decide the case objectively, we kindly request you to allow audio and video recording of the court proceedings,” the lawyer said.

The presiding judge denied this motion, too. “Do not worry about the minutes of the hearings. If anything is omitted, you can point it out later, and it will be added,” the judge said.

“But I cannot remember all court hearings, what I said and when. How can I remark it later,” Humbatova replied? The presiding judge reiterated that the motion was rejected.

Next, the public prosecutor announced the indictment. He noted that Zulfugar Mikayilov and others were accused of; creating a gang or criminal network as a preliminary action, using weapons, openly inciting terrorism, creating active insubordination to the law as well as violence against citizens, perpetrating acts aimed at a violent coup of the Azerbaijan Republic, making visible anti-state appeals, and instigating national or religious hatred. They also charged Ruzi Ismayilov and Jabir Aliyev with drug dealing.

The presiding judge asked whether the defendants considered themselves guilty to the charges. All of the accused replied that they did not consider themselves guilty at all.

“I consider myself absolutely not guilty. Guilty are those who have planted the weapons on us,” Zulfugar Mikayilov said.

“I consider myself not guilty, but it is those who have detained and tortured me that are guilty,” Elman Agayev responded.

“I do not consider myself guilty. You should instead put in our place those who have detained us,” Elkhan Hasanov answered.

The presiding judge announced the beginning of the judicial investigation and asked the parties in what order they wanted the evidence to be examined. Referring to the fact that the defendants did not plead guilty, the lawyers requested that the victims testify first and then the defendants. However, the court ruled that the evidence would be examined in the sequence prescribed by law, i.e. the defendants would testify first, followed by the testimonies of victims and witnesses.

Lawyer Bahruz Bayramov filed a motion to send an information request to the plant, where the weapons ‘found’ on the defendants had been produced. “We believe that the weapons had been planted on the detainees and their houses by employees of the investigating agency. To prove this, we need to send an information request to the plant, where those weapons have been produced, by indicating their serial numbers, to know which law-enforcement agency had ordered them and to which agency the weapons had been delivered. There is judicial precedent similar to this in Azerbaijan; in the well-known journalist, Elmar Huseynov’s case, the manufacturer and the recipient of the weapons were identified. In this light, for an objective investigation of the case, we request that an information request is sent to the arms factory in Tula, Russian Federation, where these weapons are manufactured. It will clarify to which agency those weapons were delivered,” Bayramov said.

Lawyer Akif Aliyev seconded the motion. “Here, illegal trafficking of weapons is in question. The source of acquisition of those weapons should be identified. We should not accept the word ‘found in a waste-yard’. Therefore, I believe that the motion is well-grounded and should be granted,” the lawyer noted.

The public prosecutor asked the court to defer the motion on the ground that the evidence had not been examined yet. The court left the motion undecided on the same ground.

After that, the defendants were invited to testify. Only, Eldar Bunyatov agreed to testify. The others said they did not want to testify for the time being.

Eldar Bunyatov, the uncle (on father’s side) of Abulfaz Bunyatov who was left bedridden as a result of the tortures sustained during the Nardaran operation, testified and called the charges trumped-up. “I have been living in Nardaran since 1952, including the Russian (Soviet) period. I have served in the army and worked in public sector for 28 years. In 1990, we gained independence, and I also had my part in that achievement. I participated in the burial of martyrs in the Martyrs Avenue. There are witnesses still alive who can prove this. In 1994, Heydar Aliyev came to Nardaran. We sacrificed an animal under Heydar Aliyev’s feet. I have worked as an executive power representative. On Heydar Aliyev’s instructions, we started the construction of a sanctuary and ambulant clinic in Nardaran. Within three months, in parallel with the building of the sanctuary, I ensured the construction of lines bringing electricity and water to Nardaran. How can I be a terrorist? I have aided low-income families during holidays of fast breaking and sacrificing. I was an avid campaigner for Heydar Aliyev. There are video recordings of this all. I have been Ilham Aliyev’s advocate twice. Last time, Nardaran rendered 84 percent of the votes for him. I have worked as a supporter during parliamentary elections four times. I got a large garden built in Nardaran in Heydar Aliyev’s name. I have planted 600 trees there. How can I be a terrorist? I have been the chairman of Sabunchu District Elders’ Council for eight years. Imam Mustafayev was our chairman, and the chairman of our commission was Ramiz Mehdiyev. May Imam Mustafayev rest in peace! Ramiz Mehdiyev is alive. I have got a number of services. We received Eduard Shevardnadze together with Heydar Aliyev. Do I look anything like a terrorist? Is it not a shame? I have received some contributions. I was invited to meetings in Sabunchu, Mashtaga and Balakhani, and I attended them. We organised a meeting for Heydar Aliyev’s friend, Rostropovich. I went to Basgal village, brought two packs of silk shawls and gifted them to Rostropovich’s wife, daughter-in-law and daughter, Polad Bulbuloglu’s wife, and Muslum Magomayev’s wife. I put the silk shawls around their shoulders. I have planted trees in Heydar Park. Zakir Garalov spaded soil, and I planted the tree. I got built an ambulant clinic next door to the house of Ali Insanov, may he get out of jail safe and sound! I bought a 10-ward maternity hospital. I brought special equipment fom hospitals. Back then, Ali Insanov was the first deputy of Fakhraddin Javadov, the director of Central Oilmen’s Hospital. He helped me in doing this. I have made so many services of this kind. Would I really have a submachine gun? I told them ‘It is a shame. At least, write a good submachine gun for me so that when people see me on TV, they say Haji is a rich man and can afford a brand new gun. They would laugh at an old gun’. They have written such a weapon that has an opening in the rear that you could put your hand through it. Do I look like a person carrying a dagger? They have written that I had a dagger. They said ‘Haji, if you do not say that you found the weapons in the cemetery, they will take you to the ground floor and it won’t be good for such an elderly man like you’. They hit and bruised my rib, there. Would it befit me, comrade prosecutor? How can they plant so many weapons on these people? These people invoke Abalfazl Abbas every day. I am embarrassed. I was first to call for Heydar Aliyev for the sake of our country’s independence. Now they come and say ‘You are a terrorist’. I first learned the word ‘terrorist’ here. I cannot accept this. It would not befit me to be a terrorist. Terrorists were his father and mother. How dare he label me like that? I love our country. I sacrificed a sheep under Heydar Aliyev’s feet. We, together with Zakir Garalov, Etibar Gazibayov, Hasan Agayev and Vagif Abdullayev, were discussing what if they would not allow holding the festival of fast breaking. At that time, Rafael Allahverdiyev, may he rest in peace, was the executive power head of Baku. He got permission from the President. We held the first holiday of fast breaking in Azerbaijan. Later, Garalov and Abdullayev sent me to Mecca in 1992. Do they send terrorists to Mecca? Every summer, I donated trunkful of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants to refugees to stock and use in winter. Would the name of terrorist befit me? I have hung the Azerbaijani flag in the entrance to my house. Would a terrorist hang Azerbaijan’s flag in his doorway? Does a terrorist have such an appearance? I pray for our country and our people every day. I suffer from diabetes and kidney pains. I cannot take my medicines in a timely way. We must fear God. We are creatures. God is the Creator. We should be careful with everything we do. I have three grandchildren, but I have not yet seen them. Yesterday, they took one of them out of the hospital. My grandchild phones me, but I cannot respond. I say “yes, darling” and become speechless, my hands and body trembles. Every year, my grandchildren would gather around me and wake me up. It is seriously a shame. That terrorist name does not befit me. I have been the advocate of 4 MPs and two presidents. How can I be an example for my children now,” Bunyatov said.

After that, Bunyatov answered the questions of the public prosecutor and lawyers. He recounted his detention. “On 1 December, I performed the Morning Prayer at 7 am and slept. My wife, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren were also at home, and we were sleeping. They came and fired bullets at all windows. I have not yet fully repaid for the windows. They smashed all windows. Forty of them entered in, breaking the door, a computer and a table. They did not know me because coming in they asked ‘Who is Eldar’. I said I am Eldar. My family members were afraid. They said to lie down, and I lay. They cuffed my arms. One of them kicked me in the rib on the left side so hard that, I could not breathe for three months. One of them put his foot on my head. An officer came and pushed him aside saying ‘are you not ashamed of putting your foot on an elderly man’s head’,” Bunyatov narrated.

Eldar Bunyatov also spoke about the Nardaran incident. “On 26 November, I had just started the prayer when I heard gun shots. According to the rule, we cannot stop the prayer midway. I finished my prayer and got out. I saw it was in my brother’s yard (Abulfaz Bunyatov’s father). Everything had already happened. Abulfaz Bunyatov is my nephew,” the defendant said.

Eldar Bunyatov added that defendant Mehman Mammadov was the great-grandchild of his aunt. He noted that he knew Zulfugar Mikayilov as a scholar, and got acquainted with the others following his arrest.

Eldar Bunyatov said he had never seen a weapon in his brother’s house. He further noted that he was not a member of the Muslim Union Movement and knew Taleh Bagirzade by his speeches and that Bagirzade had not made any statement against the state.

The next hearing was set for 20 February, 10.30 am.
Background: Z. Mikayilov and others are charged under Articles 214.2.1 (terrorism, committed on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons, by an organised group or a criminal community (criminal organisation)), 214.2.3 (terrorism, committed with use of fire-arms or objects used as a weapon), 214-2 (open calls for terrorist acts), 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as for violence against citizens), 228.4 (illegal acquisition, selling or carrying of a gas weapon, cold steel, as well as a throwing weapon by an organised group, except for places where carrying of a cold steel is an accessory of a national suit or is connected to hunting), 278 (actions aimed at violent seizure or retention of power in infringement of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as aimed at violent change of the constitutional grounds of the state), 279.1 (creation of armed formations or groups, which are not provided for by the legislation of the Azerbaijan Republic, participation in their creation and activity, and supplying them with weapons, ammunition, explosives, military engineering or military equipment), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, repeatedly committed or by a group of people), and 283.2.3 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by an organised group) of the Criminal Code.
Muslim Union Movement chairman Taleh Bagirzade was arrested in a procedure conducted in Nardaran on 26 November 2015. Under Baku Grave Crimes Court’s verdict of 25 January 2017, Taleh Bagirzade and his 17 co-defendants were sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison. T. Bagirzade’s deputy Elchin Gasimov and his 11 co-defendants’ case is also currently pending before the court.

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