Witness Faints out of Fear at Former ICT Ministry Officials’ Trial

January 13th, 2017

Summary: Hearing #15

  • • Some of the witnesses retracted their initial statements;
    • Defendant Namazali Mammadov’s lawyer lodged a motion to release his client, so he could attend his brother’s funeral. However, the judge denied the motion.

On 13 January, Baku Grave Crimes Court, chaired by Judge Afgan Hajiyev, held a hearing on the criminal case against the former Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies Vidadi Zeynalov, former Director General of Baku Telephone Communications Production Association (BTCPA) Beytulla Huseynov, Director of Communications Repair & Construction No.3 LLC and Repair & Supply Service LLC Emin Mammadov, chief accountant of these LLCs Anar Mustafayev, Director General of AZ Telekom LLC Mahammad Mammadov, chief accountant of the LLC Ogtay Rustamov, Director General of AzInTelekom LLC Jalil Jafarov, Director General of Azerpost LLC Gambar Baybalayev, Director of Optical Communications, Construction and Installation LLC Namazali Mammadov, chief accountant of the LLC Sahrab Humbatov, and Director of Baku Communications Repair & Construction LLC and Repair & Supply Service LLC Bayram Valiyev.

The trial proceeded with witness testimonies.

Farzali Farzaliyev, a department chief of Sabirabad Regional Telecommunications Centre, testified that he had signed the documents for the purchase of materials, but had not actually participated in the purchasing process. The witness confirmed his investigation statement. The defence lawyers asked for the witness’ statement to be read out. At that moment, Farzaliyev felt unwell and collapsed.

The next witness to testify was Akbar Asgarov, the chief accountant of Shirvan Telecommunications Centre. He noted that 90 per cent of the allocated funds were returned to AZ Telekom. “Over 5 years, 12 million 350 thousand AZN was transferred to our Centre. Only ten per cent of that amount remained for us. I returned the rest of it to Ogtay Rustamov. I have been working at the Centre since 2010. For 5 years, we worked on these terms. I received the relevant instruction from Head of the Centre Rahman Mammadov. We paid the taxes and social payments at the expense of the Centre,” the witness said. Defendant Ogtay Rustamov denied getting money from the witness and said he was not telling the truth. “We have known that you are a sincere person. Be sincere and tell the truth,” Rustamov said to the witness. “The witness says that 90 per cent of the money was returned, and only 10 per cent was used to do the work. That [Telecommunications] Centre is located near the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Shirvan. It has been renovated several times. If the money was indeed returned, how was this building renovated repeatedly and how were the phone lines installed,” defendant Vidadi Zeynalov asked, commenting on Asgarov’s testimony.

Defendant Namazali Mammadov’s lawyer filed a motion. He noted that his client’s brother had died and requested that the court ensures that Mammadov could attend his brother’s funeral. The judge said it was beyond his ability and advised that they appeal to the Ministry of Justice.

Thereafter, Asad Asadullayev, a former financial officer of Shirvan City Telecommunications Centre, provided a witness testimony. He also confirmed that 90 per cent of the funds allocated by Aztelekom LLC were returned. “The money was transferred via bank. I would put them into the cash register and then give 90 per cent to the accountant. He would then go to the chief’s office. I have not heard from the accountant about the money being returned to Aztelekom,” the witness noted.

Witness Yashar Babayev took the stand next. He introduced himself as the chief accountant of Sabirabad Regional Telecommunications Centre. He confirmed his original statement. He also noted that the money received from Aztelekom was later given back. “I do not know why it was returned. I did what our chief told me to do. In addition to my salary, the chief would give my 50 to 100 AZN on holidays and when I went to wedding parties,” Babayev said.

Due to an inconsistency between the witness’ court testimony and his investigation statement, his statement was read out. The statement read that his boss paid 1,000 AZN Babayev. The witness denied it. “Had I received that much every month, I would not have had debts to 3 banks. It must be a technical error,” he said. Babayev added that he had given 35 per cent of the money transferred to the Telecommunications Centre to Ogtay Rustamov. Rustamov disagreed with the witness.

When answering the public prosecutor’s questions, Faig Jafarov, a former chief financial officer of Aztelekom LLC, mentioned about a problem that emerged while Namazali Mammadov was working in Ganja. “We developed statistical reports and saw that the prices of the materials were higher than the market price, so we reported this fact to the management. I reported to Mahammad Mammadov about the work overall,” Jafarov said. This witness’ testimony also turned out to be inconsistent with his investigation statement, which was therefore announced. His statement read that there were many shortcomings in Namazali Mammadov’s activity. “Mammadov’s contract was terminated due to the failures. However, as the Ministry of Communications favoured Mammadov, he was reinstated. Aztelekom LLC suffered a significant loss because of this,” the statement noted. The witness said the investigator had manipulated his statement. “I never said anything about Mammadov being favoured by the minister. I couldn’t have known that,” he said. During cross-examination by lawyers, the witness said he had divided a service worth 200,000-AZN into 4 parts and held requests for job quotes in the amount of 50,000 AZN. However, he could not explain why he had done so. Defendant Zeynalov stepped in to provide an explanation. “Let me explain why we held calls for job quotes instead of a formal request for tender. During our meeting with residents in the regions, they asked us to install phone lines to their households, and we promised to install them within one month. Had we announced a formal request for tender, it would have taken us 3 to 4 months. Therefore, the money was allocated, and we divided it into 4 parts and held separate calls for rate quotes. It was for enabling us to deliver the work within the promised time,” Zeynalov noted.

Businessman Yashar Aliyev testified as a witness. He said he had undertaken work in Masalli region on the basis of an agreement with Aztelekom LLC. The witness noted that he had given 35 per cent of the money transferred by the LLC to chief accountant Ogtay Rustamov. However, defendant Ogtay Rustamov accused this witness of perjury, as well.

After that, former Aztelekom LLC chairman, defendant Mahammad Mammadov’s nephew Sahib Aliyev was questioned as a witness. He confirmed his original statement.

The next hearing on the case was set for 18 January, 10 am.
Background: The following former senior officials of the ICT Ministry and its affiliate agencies are on the dock in a high-profile corruption case: former Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies Vidadi Zeynalov, former Director General of Baku Telephone Communications Production Association (BTCPA) Beytulla Huseynov, Director of Communications Repair & Construction No.3 LLC and Repair & Supply Service LLC Emin Mammadov, chief accountant of these LLCs Anar Mustafayev, Director General of Aztelekom LLC Mahammad Mammadov, chief accountant of the LLC Ogtay Rustamov, Director General of AzInTelekom LLC Jalil Jafarov, Director General of Azerpost LLC Gambar Baybalayev, Director of Optical Communications, Construction and Installation LLC Namazali Mammadov, chief accountant of the LLC Sahrab Humbatov, and Director of Baku Communications Repair & Construction LLC and Repair & Supply Service LLC Bayram Valiyev.
Of them, Vidadi Zeynalov, Beytulla Huseynov, Anar Mustafayev, Emin Mammadov, Mammad Mammadov, Ogtay Rustamov, Namazali Mammadov, Sahrab Humbatov and Gambar Baybalayev are charged under Articles 179.3.1 (misappropriation or waste, committed as an organised group), 179.3.2 (misappropriation or waste, in a large amount), 308.2 (abuse of official powers) and 313 (service forgery) of the Criminal Code. Jalil Jafarov is charged under Articles 179.3.1 and 179.3.2. Bayram Valiyev is charged under Articles 179.3.1, 179.3.2, 308.2, 313 and 213.2.2 (tax evasion, in a large amount).