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My conviction would be a disgrace for Azerbaijan, today said Khural newspaper chief editor Avaz Zeynalli in the closing statement at his controversial trial in the Baku Grave Crimes Court. Zeynalli has been in detention since October 2011, charged “extortion” and “evasion of tax” after being particular critical of the ruling authorities.
Zeynalli’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov said in closing defense speech that they were not provided with opportunity to question the prosecution’s witnesses.
“In her complaint against Zeynalli, Gular Ahmadova (alleged main witness in Zeynalli’s case) had not stated that any disc (alleged material evidence against Zeynalli) was attached. There is no single decision made by expert Ilhama Guliyeva (who examined the voice recordings based on which Zeynalli was arrested) dated prior to Zeynalli’s case. Also, according to the legislation, the criminal case against a person is filed if he/she deliberately refuses to execute court’s decisions, while Zeynalli failed to fulfill these decisions because of the lack of necessary financial means. Therefore the journalist must be acquitted” said Sadigov.
“The judge must issue a fair verdict on the journalist, to prove that there is no political motive behind his arrest” said another lawyer Rashid Hajili.
In his final speech, Avaz Zeynalli announced that he was arrested for political reasons. He added that if the court did not acquit him, it would be a shameful decision violating freedom of expression, and the international community would witness this disgrace.
The trial was postponed for indefinite term pending a final verdict.