Today, 7 May, in the Garadag District Court, under the chairmanship of Judge Ismayil Khalilov, a hearing was held on the criminal case opened against the Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers, Eynulla Fatullayev.

The prisoners that were involved as case witnesses on the day when drugs were found on Eynulla Fatullayev were called to the witness. They were Dostiyev Taleh and Bashirov Agasaf, Ilgar Zeynalov, on whom a search was conducted; and Prison #12 Deputy Chief on Operation Regime, Aydin Abbasov.

T.Dostiyev said that Fatullayev objected to the search, and made an appeal to call his defense lawyer and relatives. To the question “Was there a possibility to call from that room?”, Dostiyev said “No.” To the question, “Is it possible to steal clothes when people sleep?”, the witness said, “Yes.”

Agasaf Bashirov’s testimony was in printed form. Therefore Lawyer Isakhan Ashurov asked if it was written by Bashirov himself. Although Bashirov claimed that he wrote the testimony himself, he was not able to explain why it was not handwritten.

Prisoner I.Zeynalov, who was in the same barracks with Fatullayev, said that he was nervous after drugs were found on prisoner Shamsiyev because of fear that narcotics could be found on him as well.

Deputy Chief A.Abbasov was not able to explain why the search was conducted on 29 December although the decision was issued on 28 December. When Ashurov asked why the court order was not sought to conduct the search, Abbasov said that this was an urgent and important event. However, this “urgent and important event” was held a day late. Abbasov noted that no internal investigation was held regarding the disclosure of the drug substances.

Ashurov put forth a motion during the hearing. The lawyer demanded that the administrative cases of prisoner Rustam Agayev (on whom drugs were found in June 2009) and Shahin Shamsiyev (on whom drugs in the amount less for consumption was found on the same day as Fatullayev) be presented to the parties, and the Prison be monitored. The judge said that the criminal and administrative cases were in the Garadag District Court and that they will be presented to both parties. However, the part of the motion regarding the monitoring of the prison was left unconsidered.

The next hearing on this case was scheduled to take place on 14 May at 11:00 a.m.

The European Court of Human Rights issued a decision regarding the case of imprisoned Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev. The decision states that the journalist should be released immediately and the Azerbaijani government should pay 27,822 EUR to Fatullayev in compensation.

Eynulla Fatullayev was arrested in the court hall on 20 April 2007 under the decision adopted by the Yasamal District Court on the lawsuit of Refugee/IDP Rights Defense Committee Chairperson Tatyana Chaladze.

After his arrest, a criminal case was opened against Eynulla Fatullayev in the National Security Ministry Chief Investigative Office regarding an article published in Realniy Azerbaijan newspaper, which according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, caused foreign citizens and representatives of international organs safety concerns. He was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to pre-trial detention. Eynulla Fatullayev was then convicted under 213.2.2 (tax evasion).

Eynulla Fatullayev was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment on 30 October 2007 under the decision adopted by the Grave Crimes Court and was fined in the amount of 242 thousand 522 AZN.

On 29 December, 0.223 grams heroin was found on Fatullayev. Eynulla Fatullayev and his lawyer assess this incident as an operation set-up to prevent the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist in the near future. A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding necessary limit for personal consumption) and he was transferred to the Baku Investigative Prison #2 on 2 January. The investigation into the case was concluded and it is being considered in the Garadag District Court.

Realniy Azerbaijan has been published as weekly newspaper, and Gundelik Azerbaijan was published as a daily newspaper since 2005. Eynulla Fatullayev established the newspapers and was the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after the arrest of the editor-in-chief in 2007.

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