On Wednesday, a preparatory hearing in the case of an activist of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA) Punhan Karimli, who is accused of drug trafficking on a large scale, began in the Serious Crimes Court.
He was arrested in January of this year, a month and a half after being readmitted from Germany, where he was refused political asylum.
Karimli said that he was being persecuted for political reasons, for participating in Germany in protests against human rights violations in Azerbaijan. Human rights activists and journalists were not allowed to the process today.
Only the activist’s father Vahid Karimov was allowed to enter the court. He stated that his son was arrested on trumped-up charges.
At the trial, lawyer Javad Javadov petitioned to terminate the criminal proceedings on acquittal grounds, and if the petition was rejected, the defense asked to change the measure of restraint to house arrest.
However, the court rejected both motions and scheduled a hearing on the merits for June 1. Human rights activists recognized Karimli as a political prisoner. He is one of five activists who have been arrested since readmission from Germany since October last year.