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

April 29th, 2016

 

Summary: Hearing 9 (April 29)

  • Interior Ministry Main Drug Enforcement Department’s (MDED) employee Farid Aliyev testified as a witness and said that based on information received, he and MDED detectives Gasim Huseynov and Surkhay Aliyev conducted a joint operation. Aliyev added that they had chosen the operational position near the Shaki café located in Yasamal district, as Rufat Zahidov spent most of his time there.

  • Sakit Alakbarov said he was an attesting witness in the case and added that drugs had been found on Rufat Zahidov and in the glove compartment of his vehicle.

  • Attesting witness Elchin Karimzade also noted that drugs had been found on Rufat Zahidov and in the glove compartment of his vehicle.

  • Lawyer Bahruz Bayramov filed a verbal motion to send an information request to mobile operators. In justification of the motion, he said that the attesting witnesses and police officers Surkhay Aliyev, Farid Aliyev and Gasim Huseynov had phone conversations in advance and arranged everything beforehand. The judge sustained the motion.

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 witnesses:

Interior Ministry Main Drug Enforcement Department’s (MDED) employee Farid Aliyev testified as a witness at the hearing. The witness said that based on information received, he and MDED detectives Gasim Huseynov and Surkhay Aliyev conducted a joint operation. He added that they had chosen the operational position near the Shaki café located in Yasamal district, as Rufat Zahidov spent most of his time there. Rufat Zahidov arrived at the café, parked his truck outside, and entered the café. Fifteen minutes later, when he went out of the café, they introduced themselves to him and took him to the Department, where they searched Rufat Zahidov and his vehicle in the presence of two attesting witnesses. A folded bag (containing drugs) was found in the compartment on the dashboard of the vehicle. During the search of Rufat’s person, a folded plastic bag (containing drugs) was found in his trousers pocket and was seized. According to the witness, Rufat Zahidov said the folded bag contained heroin, which he had purchased from a person he did not know.  

The public prosecutor reminded that while testifying Rufat Zahidov said he had been pressured and asked Farid Aliyev whether it had been the case. The witness replied that no pressure had been put on the accused person.

Sakit Alakbarov, a taxi driver was also questioned as a witness at the hearing. He said he was an attesting witness in the case and added that drugs had been found on Rufat Zahidov and in the glove compartment of his vehicle.

Next, the other attesting witness by name Elchin Karimzade testified. He said that at around 13.30 on July 20 2015 when he was passing by the Main Drug Enforcement Department, two men in civilian clothes approached him and asked him to attend the search of the person and the vehicle of a man, whom they had detained, as an attesting witness. He agreed and went to the Department together with them. There, his rights and duties were explained to him. The vehicle parked in the yard was searched and a dark brown folded bag (containing drugs) was found in the glovebox of the vehicle. Rufat Zahidov said the folded bag contained heroin, which he had bought from a man he did not know near the Yasamal bazaar. Then, they entered the Department building, where Rufat Zahidov’s person was searched. A brown powdery substance was found in the left back pocket of his blue denims. When asked what it was, he said heroin. The attesting witness said that finally a protocol was drawn up and he signed it.

Lawyer’s motion:

Lawyer Bahruz Bayramov filed a verbal motion. “I believe that the attesting witnesses and police officers Surkhay Aliyev, Farid Aliyev and Gasim Huseynov had phone conversations in advance and arranged everything beforehand. I have got the phone numbers of the witnesses and the attesting witnesses. I ask you to send an information request to mobile operators to determine the phone talks between them. I am pretty sure that the attesting witnesses are the police officers’ own men and they had talked and planned everything in advance. I request that information enquiries be sent. You are well aware that they do not present this information to us without a court order,” Bahruz Bayramov said.

The judge granted the motion and ordered that information requests be sent to the mobile operators.

The next hearing on the case was set for May 12, 15.30.