Trial on Nardaran Case Continues

August 11th, 2016

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Summary: Hearing 6

 Defendants Abbas Guliyev, Ibrahim Khudaverdiyev, Jahad Babakishiyev and Abbas Tagizade testified about the torture inflicted on them;
 Defendant Fuad Gahramanli strongly criticised the authorities during his testimony;

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 organised 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 organised 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 organised 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 organised 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.

Defendants’ testimonies:

Defendant Abbas Guliyev testified at the hearing. “I do not confirm my investigation statements. At around 12pm on November 26, I was at my aunt Haji khanim’s house; I had taken medications for her. She told me to stay and have a tea as it was cold outside. I was drinking tea with my aunt, when I heard gunshots outside. My aunt’s cottage stands separately in the yard. My aunt got to her feet and wanted to go out. I went after her fearing that she might fall as she is an elderly lady. They were going by firing over doors and fences, without thinking for a moment that their fellows were also in front of them. I had barely gone out of the door when they pointed their guns at me. I raised my hands. They pinned me to the ground and tied my hands. They shot three rubber bullets at me, too. Then they dragged me and threw into the furniture truck. They caused a cut to my head with the butt of the gun while taking me to the Main Organised Crime Department in the furniture truck. Later, they alleged that I had fallen and that caused the scar on my head. While in the truck, they hit Farahim in the head so much so that, they beat him to his death. They wanted to break Haji Taleh’s back. I could not stand the unimaginable torture that I was exposed to at the Main Organised Crime Department. That’s why I hung myself twice in the cell, but my cellmates saved me. There are cuts upon cuts on my arms. We felt like a ball in the stadium; whoever wanted to kick us, kicked us, and we banged against the wall. They beat us and then dragged us and threw into the cell. The first investigator had said ‘this person is innocent, I do not want to overburden him; I too have children’. Then they transferred the case from him to Ismayil Aliyev. When I read the indictment bill, I saw that none of what was written there had anything to do with me. I tore it to pieces and threw away. They are telling me that I have committed a coup. I am 21 years old. I have not established a state to overthrow it,” Abbas Guliyev said.

Abbas Guliyev said during the investigation he was demanded to give a testimony that Taleh Bagirzade and Abbas Huseynov were giving out weapons to them.

Defendant Ibrahim Khudaverdiyev took the stand next. “We were performing Namaz (prayer) when black-masked men attacked the house. Having heard gunshots I tried to go out, but they caught me, took me to the furniture truck and threw me into it. Inside the truck, they kicked me in the face so hard that I do not feel the right half of my face even now. Had that kick caught my head, I would have died. The allegations that a weapon and a booklet were found on me are a lie. Despite being a small village, Nardaran has made a big contribution to our independence. Accusing Nardaran people of treason is treason in itself. They arrested Haji Taleh and then closed down mosques. If you need Haji Taleh, leave mosques alone. If you need mosques, leave Haji Taleh alone,” Ibrahim Khudaverdiyev noted.

APFP Deputy Chairman, defendant Fuad Gahramanli also testified. “We are witnessing one of the most crucial periods of the history of Azerbaijan. We understand that this is a show trial, but it is very important in terms of depicting the tragedy of the people. To ensure the maintenance of power by one dynasty, innocent people are tortured and arrested. The people who must be behind bars today are those in power. But they have jailed these people over here to spread fear in the society. The charges against me are an act of repression and serve the government’s desire to forcibly silence its opponents. This case has nothing to do with law; it is a politically motivated action,” Fuad Gahramanli said.

Gahramanli quoted Taleh Bagirzade as testifying that he had been subjected to unthinkable torture for three days in order to extract a statement from him against the National Council, Jamil Hasanli and Ali Karimli. “The objective was to relate these persons to the bloody event organised by the authorities. As it did not work, they arrested me to link the Party to the Nardaran events. If Haji Taleh had given that testimony, Jamil Hasanli and Ali Karimli would also be behind bars today. They are as much innocent as these people sitting right here. They want to remain in power by using punishment methods reminiscent of the Stalin era against people. They lose their heads as they see the growing discontent in the society. They resort to these methods as they lose the political competition to the National Council. But their scenario did not work. They cannot release me because if they do so they will expose themselves. I am one of the most active people on social networks and criticise Ilham Aliyev’s government. The fact that I have been arrested because of my Facebook posts sends a message to other Facebook users critical of the government on what awaits them. Just like vampires feeding on blood, this government’s existence depends on fear. They carry out ongoing repression to keep people under fear. But yet, they cannot achieve what they want. The persons, who are here under the risk of life sentences, challenge the authorities even from behind bars. All authoritarian regimes escalate the repressions when nearing their end. As these regimes resort to more violence, hatred towards them also grows.

Amid the deepening economic crisis and increasing unemployment and corruption in the country, the number of disgruntled people in the society is growing. At such a time, the government turns the law into a punishment mechanism. This trial also revealed that they not only behave according to the rules of the Stalin regime in the interests of the government, but are ready to kill their own policemen. As for the charges against me, there is not a single evidence of me making calls for the violent seizure of power. Let them single out one sentence in my posts where I called for the infringement of the normal activities of public authorities. There is not a single word on the forcible change of the constitutional grounds of the state. The state’s constitutional grounds will be forcibly changed by referendum on September 26. They are in transition to constitutional monarchy.

When people demand their rights, the government regards it as a crime. They are accusing me of calling for peaceful protests and calling the Nardaran events a government plot, i.e. clearly for my opinions and thoughts. Each court hearing is the rape of the law and of the Themis. At the moment, this country is among the world leaders for the level of corruption and violation of human rights,” Fuad Gahramanli said.

During the questioning, the public prosecutor asked where Fuad Gahramanli knew Taleh Bagirzade from, why he defended him and what he meant by his Facebook post “Do not leave Taleh Bagirzade alone” posted after Bagirzade’s arrest. Fuad Gahramanli said he did not know Taleh Bagirzade personally. “I knew Taleh Bagirzade indirectly, and came to know the others from the hearings. I analysed the Nardaran events, came to the conclusion that what had happened there was injustice and wrote my opinions. The facts emerging here today prove I was right. Foisting crimes on people, which they had never done, and masterminding such incidents is not in keeping with the law or morals.

“I respected Taleh Bagirzade as a valuable cleric for not being indifferent to lawlessness, corruption and arbitrariness of officials in the country. The duty of a real cleric is not toadying to the authorities or using the name of the religion to make a profit. Taleh Bagirzade is a true cleric of recent times, who deserves people’s support. Arresting this person on trumped-up charges is an assault on people’s religious beliefs. This person inculcates secular statehood and democratic values. They call him to the police office and beat him, and when he goes out of there, he says any illegal action is inadmissible. By saying “Do not leave Taleh Bagirzade alone”, I did not go by the logic of the bogus charges and mean creating an armed unit around him. I meant defending him legally, morally and politically; all types of defence that are not against the law. Justice is a universal concept. I tried within the limits of my ability to defend the one whose right has been violated,” APFP Deputy Chairman said.

After that, defendant Abbas Tagizade testified. He recanted his statements provided during the investigation. Tagizade spoke about the attack by the black-masked men and the torture inflicted on him after detention. He said he knew and respected Haji Taleh as an erudite cleric.

Other defendant Jahad Babakishizade also retracted his statements provided during the investigation. He gave an account of the armed attack in Nardaran and how he was exposed to torture after detention. Jahad Babakishizade complained about the inaction by the state-appointed lawyer. “The lawyer was as if dumb,” he said.

The next court hearing was set for August 17, 10.30am.