Witness denies bribing AvazZeynalli

September 20th, 2012
Today (September 20) Baku Grave Crimes Court under judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva held a hearing on the case of Khural newspaper chief editor Avaz Zeynalli.

 Owner of Khamsa restaurant Murvet Hesenli, who testified as a witness, denied giving bribe to Zeynalli, whereas the judge read out his confession of bribing from the preliminary investigation. Hesenli admitted it, but added that his testimony is more accurate this time.

The case will be reopened on September 26, to call other witnesses.

Background

 

The property of the Khural newspaper was confiscated by the October 19 decision of the Narimanov District Court, as it failed to pay total of 19,000AZN in compensation to Presidential Administration head Ramiz Mirzeyev, head of the State Support Fund for Mass Media VugarS eferli, “Azerbaijan” publishing company director Agabey Asgerov and singer Nushabe Alesgerli.

Avaz Zeynalli, the editor-in-chief of Khural, was arrested following a lawsuit brought by MP Gular Ahmadova on October28th, 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).  He has been held in Baku Investigative Prison for more than 10 months.  

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.