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On January 23, the Baku Grave Crimes Court held a hearing on the case of Khural newspaper chief editor Avaz Zeynalli. Judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva presided over the hearing. Avaz Zeynalli raised an objection to public prosecutor Ramazan Hadiyev, saying that Hadiyev was deliberately hindering the proceedings and provoking him. Judge overruled the objection.
Then the judge considered the petitions filed by Zeynalli in previous hearings. The petitions requested the court (i) to ensure the presence of several people# in his trial, so they are testified as witnesses, (ii) to launch a criminal case against witness Murvat Hasanov for false testimony, (iii) to examine the written testimonies provided by all witnesses on the subject of authenticity i.e. whether the testimonies were typed on the same computer using the same fonts, and (iv) to return his case to the investigating organ based on the fact that main witness against him, Guler Ahmedova, denies filing a complaint against him.
The jury partially granted Zeynalli’s first petition, agreeing to testify only the experts and Aynur Imranova, an investigator at Narimanov district police office. As to Zeynalli’s petition for the return of his mobile phone seized during the detention, the judge quoted a letter from the investigating body saying that Zeynalli did not have any phone during detention, while Zeynalli objected to this saying that he did have the phone and even after his detention he had talked to Kanal 13 correspondent Aynur Imranova, whom he therefore wants to testify. Lawyer Elchin Sadigov filed a motion with the court, asking to replace the pretrial detention of Zeynalli with house arrest. The judge said this petition will be considered in the next hearing and postponed the trial until January 30, 2:00pm.
Background: Avaz Zeynalli, was arrested on October 28, 2011 following a lawsuit brought by MP Gular Ahmadova on October 19, 2011. The Anti-Corruption Office launched a criminal case against Zeynalli under article 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) and article 311.3.4 (extortion). Later he was charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion). A large number of local and international human rights organizations strongly believe that the charges against Avaz Zeynalli are trumped-up and that he was arrested for his articles criticizing high-ranking state officials.