Witnesses Renounce Their Initial Statements at Nardaran Trial

October 26th, 2016

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Summary: Hearing 31

  • Witnesses Valeh Abbasov, Bakhtiyar Ashurov and Samir Babayev testified at the hearing and did not confirm their witness statements provided during the preliminary investigation;
  •  Lawyer Yalchin Imanov filed a motion to summon Islam Agabayov, an officer for Main Organised Crime Department (MOCD) recognised as a victim in the case, for a repeat testimony;
  • Ilgar Atakishiyev was questioned as a witness. He said he had been summoned and interrogated as a witness for ‘liking’ Fuad Gahramanli’s post on Facebook.

On 26 October 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.

Witness testimonies:

Nardaran resident Valeh Abbasov testified at the hearing as a witness. He said he was illiterate. While being cross-examined by lawyers, the witness said the statement he had provided during the preliminary investigation had not been read to him. Thereupon, the judge read out the witness’ investigation statement. The statement read that [at the meeting] in Abulfaz Bunyatov’s house, Taleh Bagirzade had spoken about establishment of an Islamic state, armament and coup d’état. The witness denied giving such a statement.

Bakhtiyar Ashurov took the stand next. He identified himself as a Mashtaga resident and said he had been stopped by the police in the street and taken for interrogation. Like the previous witness, he also stated that his statement provided to the investigator had not been read to him. The witness’ investigation statement was read out. It read that Taleh Bagirzade advocated a state takeover and establishment of a religious state during his sermons in the mosque. Ashurov said Taleh Bagirzade had never made such a speech. So, the witness did not confirm his statement.

After that, Samir Babayev testified as a witness. “On 5 November 2015, we heard that Elchin Gasimov was arrested. We went to Sabunchu District Police Department to learn why he was arrested. They told us to move to the other side of the road as it was not allowed to stand on that side. So, we crossed to the opposite side. Then the police attacked and beat us. They detained us and took to the department. At the department, the floor was covered in our brothers’ blood. They threw us to the ground and beat us. I was released after being detained for one day. Following the Nardaran events, I was summoned to the MOCD and interrogated. Islam Agabayov was present during my interrogation. They were asking me what Taleh Bagirzade had talked about. I said he had spoken about religion. Then they showed me the pictures of Haji Ali and others and told me to write that those persons have risen up against the state. I said I could not do such a thing. I wanted to read the statement when signing it, but they did not allow and snapped at me saying that they had written what I had said,” the witness noted. At that, the witness’ statement was read out. He did not confirm the part of his statement about the coup.

Thereupon, lawyer Yalchin Imanov filed an oral motion. He said that though Islam Agabayov had been recognised as a victim, during cross-examination he denied having participated in any investigation action. On that ground, Yalchin Imanov requested that Islam Agabayov be questioned in court once again. Commenting on the motion, the public prosecutor said Agabayov had already been questioned and he might not have anything to add, and therefore there was no need to summon and interrogate him again. Upon an on-bench deliberation, the court rejected the motion.

Testifying at the hearing, witness Ilgar Atakishiyev said he had been summoned to the MOCD and interrogated for ‘liking’ APFP deputy chairman Fuad Gahramanli’s Facebook post and writing a comment underneath it and been asked questions related to Fuad Gahramanli.

Lawyer Nemat Karimli asked the witness whether Fuad Gahramanli’s posts had evoked in him thoughts of carrying out a coup. The witness replied that such thoughts had not been evoked in him.

The judge read out the witness’ statement provided to the investigating agency. The statement read that Fuad Gahramanli was radical and called people to rallies and riots. Fuad Gahramanli asked the witness how he knew about such calls without participating in rallies. The witness answered that he had signed his statement without reading it first. He did not confirm the said part of his statement. The witness said his statement had been typed on a computer and given him in a printed form and he quickly signed it in order to leave the department as soon as possible.

The next hearing was set for October 28, 10.30am.