Witness Testimonies Continue in Trial for Critical Journalist Ganimat Zahid’s Relatives

May 24th, 2016

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Summary: Hearing 10

 Huseynov Gasim Nizami oglu, the chief detective of the Main Drug Enforcement Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, testified as a witness and said that on July 20, 2015 they received operational information about Rufat Zahidov’s engagement in drug trafficking and having drugs on him at the moment, and therefore they went to the café, where Rufat Zahidov was, to check the information.

Baku Grave Crimes Court, under chairmanship of Judge Eldar Mikayilov, continued the hearing on the criminal case of Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov, who are arraigned on drug charges. Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov are relatives of Ganimat Zahid, the editor-in-chief of Azadliq newspaper and the host of the Azerbaijani Hour TV program who currently lives in exile in France. Rufat Zahidov is Ganimat Zahid’s nephew and Rovshan Zahidov is his cousin. Rufat and Rovshan Zahidov were arrested in July 2015, and are charged under Articles 234.4.1 (illegal manufacturing, processing, purchase, storage, transfer, transportation or selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances – on preliminary arrangement by a group of persons) and 234.4.3 (- in large amount) of the Criminal Code.

Questioning of prosecution witness:

Gasim Huseynov, the chief detective of the Main Drug Enforcement Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was questioned as a witness at the hearing. He noted that on July 20, 2015 they received operational information about Rufat Zahidov’s engagement in drug trafficking and having drugs on him at the moment. According to the witness, he, together with the team head Surkhay Aliyev and Farid Aliyev, detained Rufat Zahidov as the latter was leaving a café located in Yasamal district and brought him to the Department in order to check the operational information received. The witness noted that at the Department he and the other police officer Surkhay Aliyev invited attesting witnesses and searched Rufat Zahidov’s person and his car in the presence of the attesting witnesses. They found folded packets in the glove compartment of Rufat Zahidov’s car and in the left back pocket of his trousers. When asked what was inside the folded packet, Rufat Zahidov said it contained heroin which he had purchased at Yasamal bazaar.

In response to the lawyer’s question “how long did it take you to go to the Department and to search Rufat Zahidov and his car,” the witness said “it took approximately 20 minutes and we found attesting witnesses nearby.”

Lawyer Tahir Khanaliyev said he wanted to file a motion regarding the witness. “This witness did not show up at the previous hearing, which was therefore postponed. And at the hearing before the previous one, he insulted me. He called me names in the yard of the court, where prisoner escorts were standing. This person has harassed a lawyer. He hindered the work of a lawyer performing his job through pressure and intimidation. I request you to make a special ruling against him,” the lawyer said.

The presiding judge replied that as the incident had taken place outside the courtroom, the lawyer could not file a motion in that regard. He said the lawyer should appeal to law enforcement agencies.

The next court hearing was set for June 3, 16.30.