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Summary: Hearing 35
On 14 November 2016 Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Alovsat Abbasov continued the hearing on the criminal case of Muslim Union Movement’s Chairman Taleh Bagirzade and other members of the Muslim Union Movement, charged under 21 articles of the Criminal Code including homicide, terrorism and incitement.
The APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Gahramanli who is not a member of the Movement but yet accused of promoting their cause is charged under Articles 220.2 (making calls for active insubordination to lawful requirements of representatives of authority and for mass disorders, as well as violence against citizens), 281.2 (public appeals directed against the state, committed repeatedly or by a group of people) and 283.2.1 (instigation of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, by using or threatening to use violence) of the Criminal Code respectively.
On 26 November 2015 an armed incident occurred between a group of believers and policemen in Nardaran settlement of Baku, during an operation conducted by the police. According to official reports, the shootout resulted in the death of six, including two police officers. Taleh Bagirzade, the leader of the Muslim Union Movement, and several believers were detained as part of the operation. A criminal case has been launched in relation to the incident by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.
Fuad Gahramanli, who was not present during the incident, was arrested on 8 December, 2015. His lawyer Yalchin Imanov said that Fuad Gahramanli was arrested due to his Facebook posts and his case was merged with the criminal case of the people arrested over the Nardaran incidents.
Examination of witnesses:
Cardiologist Huseynbala Mehdiyev was questioned at the hearing as a witness. He said he had been interrogated in connection with Fuad Gahramanli’s Facebook post. “I am a cardiologist, and I myself have undergone heart surgeries six times. I cannot understand why I have been summoned to the court. I was asked at the Main Organised Crime Department whether I knew Taleh Bagirzade and I said I did not know him. Then they asked about Fuad Gahramanli. I said I was not personally acquainted with him, but knew him as a dignified and respectable citizen. I like him very much. He is a clever guy,” the witness said.
“After taking my statement, the investigator asked me to sign it. I said I had left my glasses at home and asked him what was written in there. He said everything was as I had narrated. I trusted his words and signed it without reading the statement. Honestly, I do not remember what Fuad Gahramanli wrote in his post and what I wrote myself. I did not even look at that post. It was on the eve of the elections. I shared my comment with 100 to 200 people. I swear by God that I do not remember what Fuad Gahramanli wrote there. I wrote to all of my friends on Facebook that we needed to go to vote no matter what,” the witness added.
After that, subway employee Azad Karimov testified as a witness. “I have been interrogated in relation to the events of 5 November 2015. At Sabunchu police department, I was asked where I had come from, with whom and why. I heard about Elchin Gasimov’s detention on Facebook and went there. As soon as I arrived there, I was apprehended by the police but was released afterwards. At the investigating agency, they did not let me read my statement and I was forced to sign. I know Taleh Bagirzade from his speeches on Youtube. I have not heard him speak against the state or the constitutional system. Taleh Bagirzade only spoke about gas, water and state. All of his speeches are on Youtube. He was saying that he had no claim to presidency,” Azad Karimov said.
Next, Nardaran resident Fagani Dadashov took the witness stand. He said he had been interrogated in relation to the events (police operation) that occurred in Nardaran on 26 November 2015. “I began visiting Nardaran since the summer of 2015. I always perform Namaz (Muslim prayer) together with Nardaran people. On 26 November 2015, I was selling fish in Nardaran when I heard that there had been a shootout in the village (Nardaran). I went there and saw that some people had been detained and taken away, some were wounded and one person was killed,” the witness said.
The witness added that this was the only things he had told the investigators as well, and the rest [of his statement] was not his words.
Dadashov further noted that he had been invited to one of the previous hearings as a witness and had waited until 2 pm while three other witnesses were examined, but at 2 pm he was told that the hearing would not continue and he along with the other witnesses were taken to the 42nd police station of Sabunchu District Police Department, where he was held for one hour before being released.
Thereafter, regarding lawyer Yalchin Imanov’s motion to request from the investigating agency a copy of the booklet allegedly containing an address by Taleh Bagirzade, the presiding judge said a copy of the booklet had been submitted to the court. He presented the booklet to the lawyers to reproduce copies for themselves.
During the examination of witness Mahir Ganiyev, an expert from the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, it was revealed that he had given an expert opinion on Taleh Bagirzade’s above-mentioned booklet three times. The defendants and their lawyers objected to Ganiyev’s examination as a witness. The judge granted the objection and told Ganiyev that he could come and testify as an expert at the phase of examination of documents.
The judge then noted that the other summoned witnesses had failed to appear. According to him, witnesses Sardar Bunyatov and Yetar Aliyev had sent a telegram to the court confirming their statements provided to the investigators and asking the court to hold the trial without their participation.
Taleh Bagirzade said witness Sardar Bunyatov had been subjected to pressure. He and defence lawyers said those witnesses’ testimonies were important and asked the court to call them for testimony.
Fuad Gahramanli said the witnesses could be forcibly brought before the court and examined. The judge said brining witnesses forcibly to can be problematic as an appeal must be made to the police. The court itself would call the witnesses.
The next hearing was set for 16 November, 10.30am.