Zeynalli stated that the condition of the vehicles for transferring prisoners is unbearable, as is the state of the temporary detention facilities of the Baku Grave Crimes Court. Zeynalli also declared before the judge that he has been operating as editor-in-chief for 10 years, and that his journalistic activity is the reason for his arrest. “The government pitted its MPs and their puppets against me in order to silence me and to silence Khural daily newspaper. For this purpose they used MP Gular Ahmadova, who is a member of the New Azerbaijan Party. This trial will be one of the most important and memorable in the history of the Azerbaijani press. For this reason, I ask you to allow audio recording and filming.” He further stated that neither he nor his lawyers will reply to the judge’s questions if his petition was denied.
“The course of the trial demonstrates that my arrest was ordered by the authorities, namely by the head of the presidential administration Ramiz Mehdiyev. And my arrest was planned by Ali Hasanov, the head of the socio-political department of the administration.” Zeynalli added that, after Khural newspaper was closed down, the Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor’s office breached the right to presumption of innocence and issued unfounded statements against the newspaper.
After 5 minutes of deliberation, the judge denied Zeynalli’s petitions.
Media Rights Institute head Rashid Hajili noted that more than 20 public figures in Azerbaijan have signed a letter of guarantee for the release of Avaz Zeynalli on bail. The letter stated: “We ask you to consider the fact that Avaz Zeynalli does not pose a danger to society, that his family and relatives live in Azerbaijan and that he is engaged in journalistic activity. In this light, please replace his sentence with house arrest.” The judge rejected this request. The case will be considered again on June 6th at 3:00pm.
While Avaz Zeynalli was initially arrested under Article 311.3, only the plaintiffs relating to further charges (under Articles 306 and 213.1) attended the hearing. MP Gular Ahmadova did not attend.
Zeynalli, the editor-in-chief of Khural, was arrested following a lawsuit brought by MP Gular Ahmadova on October 28th. The Anti-Corruption Office charged him under Article 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) and Article 311.3.4 (taking a bribe via the application of threat), and Nasimi District Court sentenced him to 3 months of pre-trial detention. On January 17th 2012 his prison term was extended by three months. On April 12th 2012 his prison term was extended for one month.