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Summary: Hearing 1
Baku Grave Crimes Court chaired by Judge Eynulla Valiyev held a preliminary hearing on the criminal case of NIDA Civic Movement’s member Bayram Mammadov, who is charged with drug-related offences.
At today’s hearing, the court first verified the personal data of defendant Bayram Mammadov. The judge then asked the youth activist whether he had any objection to the judicial panel. “My objection is against this kind of state system and the president. Whoever sits in your place does not make any difference to me. After all, for me this room is a room of farce. It is a theatre of musical comedy. And, the stage director is Ilham Aliyev,” Mammadov replied.
At the hearing, youth activist’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case. “Bayram Mammadov’s action does not constitute a crime. It is proven by the documents in the case file. He was forced to provide a confession under duress. Except this confession, there is no evidence for the drug-trafficking charges against him. During the investigation, our motion to take fingerprints from the [packets of] drugs was not granted. Had the fingerprints be taken, it would be clear that the drugs allegedly found on Bayram Mammadov and in his apartment have nothing to do with him. This criminal case must therefore be terminated,” Elchin Sadigov said.
The lawyer’s second motion sought to replace pre-trial detention with house arrest in regard to Bayram Mammadov.
In his third motion, the lawyer requested the court to send enquiries to several agencies to obtain evidence relevant to the case. Specifically, the lawyer asked the court to request the Bar Association to submit the list of the cases attended by lawyer Hilal Bagirov, who was Bayram Mammadov’s court-appointed lawyer upon his arrest, on the day of Bayram Mammadov’s detention.
The lawyer further said that he had reliable information on the persons involved in the present case as attesting witnesses having participated in other drug-related cases in the same status and them being unofficial employees of Baku City Main Police Department. The lawyer asked for enquiries to be sent to Baku Grave Crimes Court, Sabunchu District Court and Surakhani District Court to obtain information on those criminal cases.
The judge denied the motions and set the date for the next hearing which will be held on 11 November.
Background: Members of opposition civic movement NIDA and final-year students of Azerbaijan Slavic University, Giyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov were arrested on drug charges on 10 May 2016. They were involved in writing graffiti on a statue of former President Heydar Aliyev. Both youths have claimed that they have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The two youths went missing since the evening hours on 10 May 2016. It was only on 12 May 2016 that the Ministry of Internal Affairs released information on the youths’ arrest.
According to the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as a result of search carried out by the officers of the Drug Enforcement Department of Baku City Main Police Office, Police Office #22 of Nasimi District Police Department and Police Office #25 of Nizami District Police Department, 2.607 grams of heroin was found and seized on Giyas Ibrahimov on, and additional 1 kilogram and 10 grams of heroin were found and seized during the search of his apartment. As a result of another search conducted by the officers of the Drug Enforcement Department of Baku City Main Police Office and Police Office #12 of Sabunchu District Police Department, 2.904 grams of heroin were found and seized on Bayram Mammadov, and additional 1 kilogram and 150 grams of heroin were found and seized during the search of his house.
Both activists were charged with drug possession upon arrest. On 12 May 2016, Baku Court sentenced Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov to a 4-month pre-trial detention. Their detention term was further extended in September. The youth activists have reported being subjected to torture whilst in detention. On 25 October, Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced Giyas Ibrahimov to 10 years in prison.