Witnesses Testify in Former MNS General Akif Chovdarov’s Trial

> Witness accused the victim of installing a camera in the lift and watching women;

> Businessman’s complaint against his business partner filed with the Ministry of National Security (MNS) has boomeranged back on him;

> Arrested General Subahir Gurbanov and other MNS officers testified at the hearing.

On 6 March, Baku Military Court chairman Habib Hasanov presided over a hearing hosted by Sabunchu District Court in the criminal case of former head of the General Directorate for Energy and Transport Security of the dissolved Ministry of National Security (MNS) Major General Akif Chovdarov, former head of the 1st department Salim Mammadov, former head of the 2nd department Akif Aliyev and former deputy head of the 1st division of the 3rd department Orkhan Osmanov.

As the journalists were not granted access to the courtroom, the media representatives were informed of the hearing by the lawyers.

According to Akif Chovdarov’s lawyer Kamandar Nasibov, witnesses testified at the hearing about the fact that Techmarine LLC founder, Arif Hasanov was a victim. Hasanov’s business partner Sahrab Allahverdiyev testified as a witness.

As stated in the indictment, Arif Hasanov first filed a complaint with the MNS against his business partner. However, his complaint filed with MNS Colonel Fizuli Aliyev cost him dearly, in that he himself, his son and Sahrab Allahverdiyev were taken to the MNS and demanded to pay a fee of AZN 400,000.

Questioned in court, Sahrab Allahverdiyev said he had suffered damage by the MNS. During his testimony, Allahverdiyev also complained of his business partner’s and his son’s actions.

Lawyer Kamandar Nasibov quoted Sahrab Allahverdiyev as saying that the defendants had not put pressure on him. “The complaint against me had been made by Arif Hasanov, the founder of Techmarine LLC – the company I was working for. He alleged that I was a member of ISIS. He and his son stole oil from ships and replaced it with water. He installed a camera in the lift and watched women. Even, Arif Hasanov’s son raped one of the women. I was summoned to the Ministry after his complaint. But, I did not face any pressure,” the witness said.

According to Allahverdiyev’s investigation statement, arriving in the MNS, he was told by Fizuli Aliyev that Arif Hasanov had filed a complaint against him, but he rejected the accusations. He was then confronted with his former business partner Arif Hasanov. During the confrontation, the parties accused each other. Sahrab Allahverdiyev noted that AZN 1,000,000 had been demanded from him in the MNS, and he had given AZN 500,000. status.

After the break, arrested MNS General Subahir Gurbanov, Lieutenant Colonel Fizuli Aliyev and MNS officer Natig Aliyev testified. The criminal case of these three officers is also pending before Baku Military Tribunal.

Subahir Gurbanov said he was unaware of the issue related to Techmarine LLC. “The grounds for implementation of operational measures with regard to the above company should have been mentioned in a briefing note. But I do not recall receiving such a briefing note,” Gurbanov said.

Fizuli Aliyev and Natig Aliyev also denied Arif Hasanov’s allegations during their testimonies. They said they had not obtained any money from victim Arif Hasanov.

The proceedings will continue on 13 March.

Background: Akif Chovdarov and others are charged with illegal imprisonment resulting by inadvertence in the death of the victim or other serious consequences; misappropriation or squandering committed by an organised group in a large amount; banditry; extortion; illegal possession of a weapon; infringement of the legislation on operative search activity, committed with use of technical means designed to secretly obtain information; receiving a bribe; service forgery; and, abuse and excess of authority, committed by a group of people with use of a weapon.

In order to ensure the payment of the damages caused to the victims, a total of 33 million 466 thousand AZN worth of property and money belonging to defendants Akif Chovdarov, Salim Mammadov, Akif Aliyev and Orkhan Osmanov, including 8 million 967 thousand AZN worth of trade and service facilities, greenhouses, fishing farms and other property complexes and land plots, 24 million 445 thousand AZN worth of detached houses, apartments and vehicles, and 37 thousand AZN worth of jewellery products have been attached to court decisions.

The Ministry of National Security was dissolved under a Presidential decree in December 2015, and was replaced by two new agencies, the State Security Service and the Foreign Security Service.

While in office, Akif Chovdarov’s name was repeatedly mentioned in connection with pressures against journalists. In February 2008, Azadliq newspaper reporter Agil Khalil was attacked by Chief of MNS General Directorate, Colonel Akif Chovdarov and Directorate employee Daghbayi Allahverdiyev while filming the felling of trees in olive gardens in Baku. The journalist was beaten up and sustained injuries to his face, hand, chest and head and a broken finger. The attack was filmed by accidental passers-by and uploaded on the internet. After that, the journalist was persecuted by Chovdarov, repeatedly threatened and illegally prevented from leaving the country. Ultimately, the journalist managed to leave the country.

Former political prisoner Eynulla Fatullayev also made intriguing revelations about Chovdarov. He noted that Chovdarov had visited him at the MNS detention centre and threatened that they would do to him what they had once done to Elmar Huseynov.

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