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In Azerbaijan even the lawyers have trouble defending themselves against the judicial arbitrariness in courts

IN AZERBAIJAN EVEN THE LAWYERS HAVE TROUBLE DEFENDING THEMSELVES AGAINST THE JUDICIAL ARBITRARINESS IN COURTS

Elchin Sadigov

Analysis of violation of law during Elchin Sadigov’s judicial proceedings

Baku City Binagadi District Court

Case №4 (001)-1035/2022

11 September 2022

Judge: Farid Amiraliyev

Defendant: Elchin Sadigov

Defender: Shahla Humbatova, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev

Plaintiff: a Junior Counsellor of Justice, Teymur Qarayev,  an investigator in charge of serious cases in the Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic

Representative of the plaintiff: a Junior Counsellor of Justice, Hagverdi Mehrabov, a Senior Prosecutor in the Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic.

 

Elchin Sadigov is a member of the Bar Association who has defended many political prisoners. He previously worked at the Media Rights Institute and mainly specialised in defending the journalists. E. Sadigov was a defending attorney for the journalist Parviz Hashimli, political activist Qiyas Ibrahimov, human rights activist Leyla Yunus, journalists Afgan Sadigov and Avaz Zeynalli, Ziya Ibrahimov, a political activist deported from Germany to Azerbaijan, and many others arrested on political grounds.

Elchin Sadigov has repeatedly been subjected to heavy pressure due to his activities. The Azerbaijani Bar Association has initiated numerous disciplinary proceedings against him, and at the highest level there have been cybercrimes of a threatening nature.

On 10 September 2022, E. Sadigov was charged with offences under the Articles 32.5 and 311.3.3 (Aiding and abetting in large-scale bribery) of the Azerbaijan Republic Criminal Code.

The office of Elchin Sadigov and his wife, Zibeyda Sadigova, a lawyer, was searched by the officers of the General Prosecutor’s Office Investigation Department at night from 10 to 11 September 2022.  Elchin Sadigov couldn’t assist the search since his freedom had been already restricted starting from 10 September 2022.

It should be pointed out that the journalist and Head of Xural TV Avaz Zeynalli was charged along with E. Sadigov in the same case. In his turn, he was charged with committing a crime under the Article 311.3.3 (A bribe on a large scale) of the Azerbaijan Republic Criminal Code.

Just three days later after Elchin Sadigov’s arrest, Zibeyda Sadigova claimed that her husband had not been allowed to contact his family or even to meet with his lawyer. While in detention, E. Sadigov denied meals, officially submitting his statement to the management of the detention facility of the State Security Service, where he had been held.

On 11 September 2022, the Baku Binagadi District Court issued a restraint order against Mr. Sadigov: arrest for a period of 4 months.

 

Commentary by expert lawyer:

The court verdict is unlawful and unjustified. We shall examine the Article on which E. Sadigov has been charged. According to the Article 32.5, 311.3.3 of the Azerbaijan Republic Criminal Code, receiving a bribe by an official in exchange for illegal actions on a large scale is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 8 to 12 years.

“The person who temporarily, permanently or by special authorization performs administrative or organisational functions in the state bodies, municipal or state institutions, local authorities or performs functions of a representative of power is the perpetrator of the offence of bribery.” – https://www.legalneed.ru/info/criminallaw/poluchenie-vzatki/

However, Mr. Sadigov is not an official. He is a lawyer. He does not fulfil any administrative or organisational functions in the government bodies. He is a member of the Bar Association.

The Article 1 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan On lawyers and legal practice states,

“Legal practice in the Republic of Azerbaijan shall mean an independent legal institution which professionally exercises legal protection activity.”

This provision clearly indicates that an advocate cannot be a subject of this Article as he is not a public official.

Besides the violation of the Substantive Law of the Criminal Code, it was also a violation of the principles of the criminal procedure.

One of the most important rights of any democratic society is the right to freedom. It is enshrined in the Constitution, the Fundamental Law of Azerbaijan.

According to the Article 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan,

  1. Everyone has the right for freedom.
  2. Right for freedom might be restricted only as specified by law, by way of detention, arrest or imprisonment.

Moreover, one of the principles of criminal procedure is also the right to liberty, and it is enshrined in the Article 14 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Azerbaijan Republic.

The right to liberty is enshrined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 5(1), the Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December, 1948, and in the Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the UN on 16 December, 1966, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This right is a fundamental right amongst the most important rights. It is a non-derogable right that cannot be waived by an individual. The guarantees enshrined in this norm apply to everyone: anyone at liberty or in custody has this right.

Despite the existence of these norms in the National and International legislation, the court issued a ruling in the case of arrest of Elchin Sadigov that was not supported by the norms of Law. It was based on a biased and groundless perception of the defendant.

According to the Article 154.2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic, restrictive measures may be the following:

  • arrest;
  • house arrest;
  • bail;
  • restraining order;
  • personal surety;
  • surety offered by an organisation;
  • police supervision;
  • supervision;
  • military observation;
  • removal from office or position.

Among the listed preventive measures, an arrest is the measure that fully restricts a person’s freedom. Unfortunately, this measure is used much more frequently in the Azerbaijani courts, I would say in 90% of criminal cases, instead of alternative measures of restraint. In the case of political activists, independent journalists, and others, as a rule, an arrest is applied in all cases.

The court imposed the harshest measure of restraint for no reason whatsoever. The lawyer’s arrest was neither necessary nor in the public interest.  E. Sadigov could not have caused any danger to national security.

As grounds justifying the arrest, the court laid down all the grounds that had been stated in the application and submission for arrest, i.e:

  • hiding from the body conducting the criminal proceedings;
  • obstructing the normal course of the preliminary investigation or court proceedings by exerting unlawful pressure on the persons involved in the criminal proceedings, by concealing or falsifying the significant for criminal prosecution materials;
  • failure without a valid excuse to appear in the court when summoned by the authority conducting the criminal proceedings or evading criminal prosecution and serving the sentence in any other way.

It is worth recalling again that E. Sadigov is a lawyer for human rights protection and has always defended the rights that are being trampled most of all in Azerbaijan: the right to freedom, the right to express an opinion and other important rights. Therefore, the investigating authority’s grounds and the court’s confirmation of these grounds look more than silly and illogical. Furthermore, there was not a single piece of evidence to justify the arrest of E. Sadigov in the course of the trial.

The court failed to take an individual approach to the case when imposing the preventive measure. It adopted a blanket approach and voiced abstract arguments.

The Article 155.2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic states, that in resolving the question of the necessity for a restrictive measure and which of them to apply to the specific suspect or accused, the preliminary investigator, investigator, prosecutor in charge of the procedural aspects of the investigation or court shall bear in mind his personality, age, health and occupation and his family, financial and social positions, including whether he has dependents and a permanent residence. If the court had taken into account E. Sadigov’s personal background, it would have indicated that he had a permanent place of residence, a job, three young children, one of whom was seriously ill, and his reputation in the country and beyond. But instead the court said that for the charges brought against him he would face a future sentence exceeding two years of imprisonment (under the Article 158.1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic).

The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Weeks v. the United Kingdom, 2 March 1987, it is written

“The Article 5 applies to ‘everyone’. Anyone at liberty or in custody shall have the right to defence, i. e. the right not to be deprived of liberty, except the requirements stated in the 1st paragraph and, if under arrest or detention, the right to benefit from the various guarantees referred to in the paragraphs 2-5 insofar as they are taken into consideration”. https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22fulltext%22:[%22Weeks%20v.%22],%22documentcollectionid2%22:[%22GRANDCHAMBER%22,%22CHAMBER%22],%22itemid%22:[%22001-57594%22]}

Apart from the violation of his right to liberty, since the day of his arrest his procedural rights have also been violated. The arrest took place at night, from Saturday to Sunday. While in detention, he was not allowed either to call his family for a week, nor to meet with the lawyers of his choice.

The Article 91.5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic enumerates the rights of the accused. Thus, every accused person has the right:

  • has a defence lawyer starting from the moment of his or her detention or indictment;
  • shall have the assistance of a defender free of charge;
  • immediately upon his/her arrest, inform by telephone or other means his/her close relatives or other persons with whom he/she has a legitimate connection by informing them of his/her arrest or detention and the place of detention; if the detainee is a foreign national or stateless person, he/she shall immediately inform the diplomatic mission or consular office of his/her country of citizenship or permanent residency in Azerbaijan, or a National or International Organization, which has assumed legal custody of him/her;
  • to independently choose a defence counsel, terminate his or her mandate and, if he/she renounces the counsel’s services, conduct his/ her own defence;
  • has a private and confidential meeting with the defence lawyer without any limitation regarding the number and duration of the meetings, etc.

The Article 6 (3) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, also protects the individual’s personal liberty:

Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;

(b) to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;

(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

(d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak

the language used in court.

The judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECHR) in the case of Artico v Italy of 13 May, 1980, it is stated

“The Convention is intended to guarantee not theoretical or illusory rights but rather their practical and effective implementation; this is particularly true in respect of the right to defence, which is a prominent right in a democratic society, as the right to a fair trial from which it derives – https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22fulltext%22:[%22Artico%22],%22documentcollectionid2%22:[%22GRANDCHAMBER%22,%22CHAMBER%22],%22itemid%22:[%22001-57424%22]}

All of the above demonstrates that the court, once again in this criminal case, was not applying a preventive measure in accordance with the law and a specific, individual approach but rather with a biased attitude. The restraint measure was imposed on the assumptions, and not on the basis of the specific evidence. With regard to the lawyer taking acre of human rights, his fundamental rights were violated: the right to liberty, the right to defence, the right to call the family and relatives, and other rights. Moreover, Elchin Sadigov could not be the perpetrator of the incriminated crime. Once again, the Court violated the obligations that Azerbaijan undertook when the country joined the Council of Europe.

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ARESTS IN SEPTEMBER 2020

ARRESTS IN SEPTEMBER 2020

15 September

Arrested for protesting again the mosques demolition

Edgar Osmanov

Edgar Osmanov, a resident of the settlement Dyallar in the Shamkir District, was sentenced to 10 days imprisonment. According to Vetenugrunda.az, that information was provided by his father’s family,

“On 14 September Edgar was called in by the Head of the Dyallar Municipality. The mayor told Edgar that he had been summoned by the Shamkir District Police Department. So, Edgar went to the police station and did not return home. On 15 September, we were told that he had been imposed 20 days of arrest. Edgar’s father, Mahir Osmanov, went to the police station to find out about his son’s fate. There, he was told that his son had already been taken to the court, so go there, he was advised”.

Mahir Osmanov went to the court and after a long standstill at the door came in and asked about his son Edgar,

“I was asked: Are you the father of the criminal? I replied that my son had not committed any crime. He only protested against the demolition of the mosque and shared the pictures of the destruction. This is not a crime.” At that moment, two men in civilian clothes approached Mahir Osmanov, grabbed his hand and dragged him to another room. “There, they began to insult me and said that we had arrested your son, and we could arrest you too. Then one of the policemen said that my son had already been on trial and got 20 days in jail.”

In fact, Edgar Osmanov was found guilty under the Articles 510 (disorderly conduct) and 535.1 (persistent disobedience to a lawful demand of a police or military officer during the performance of their duties to protect public order) of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Azerbaijan Republic and was sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention.

It should be mentioned that the mosque under construction in the Dyallar settlement is being demolished by the order of Alimpasha Mammadov, the Head of the executive authority and the municipality of the settlement. As the locals said, instead of mosque it will be built a house for the family of a person killed in the Karabakh war. However, a local teacher who wished to remain anonymous claimed that the authorities actually had intended to demolish the mosque and sell that land.

 

18 September

The State Security Service special operation: Amil Ahmadov has been arrested

Amil Ahmadov

According to the State Security Service of Azerbaijan, the investigation revealed that a citizen of Azerbaijan, Amil Ahmadov, was trained in a special training camp in the Leroman settlement of Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic in 2016-2019. He was trained in order to participate in the armed conflicts carried out under the guise of spread of religious confessions. He learned how to use various types of firearms and explosives. Thereafter, he took part in terrorist acts outside the country. In particular, it was revealed that he had been a member of “Jeyshullah” and other illegal armed groups in military conflicts in the cities of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib.

Subsequently, Amil Ahmadov secretly fled to the territory of a third state.

On 7 September 2020, Amil Ahmadov was detained as a suspect by the State Security Service of Azerbaijan and charged under the Article 283-1.3 (Creation of stable group to participate in the armed conflicts outside the Azerbaijan Republic) of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic. The court issued a measure of restraint in the form of detention.

The criminal case is currently ongoing.

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ARESTS IN AUGUST 2020

ARRESTS IN AUGUST 2020

23 August

The number of mosque prisoners is growing

Mosque in the settlement of Nardaran

The closure of mosques due to the quarantine confinement in Azerbaijan has caused a great deal of resentment among believers.

According to Vetenugrunda.az reports from the regions, the worshippers protesters have undergone detention all over the country. In particular, Aykhan Jamalov and Eldar Mammadov from the Shamkir region got 25 days of administrative arrest each for protesting against the mosques closure.

Similarly, in Barda, a former political prisoner, Elshan Abbasov, a member of the “Muslim Unity” Movement, was summoned to the police station for a brief discussion but has not yet been released. It was told to his relatives that he had been sentenced up to 30 days of administrative arrest.

A resident of Yevlakh, the poet Ghazanfar, was jailed for 15 days for posting on his personal social media page a demand requesting to open the mosques.

Behbud Imanov, a resident of Lerik, was detained on administrative grounds for 20 days. He was organizing a religious meeting at his house.

Eight people were brought to the police department in the Lankaran district. Seven of them were released the same day but the theologian Seyid Javid Miriyev was sentenced to 10 days under administrative arrest.

There are also reports concerning 20 believers in Beylaqan district who were first detained, then fined and released. In Ganja, 6 people were released after being interrogated in the police department.

On 21 August, in the evening, the police detained and took to the police department 6 believers who were on their way to a mosque in Javad village in the Sabirabad District.  The worshippers were fined 200 manats after which they were let going home.

Last week, Elchin Qasymov, the deputy chairman of the Muslim Unity Movement (MUM), was also summoned to the Sabunchi district police department following his speech regarding mosque closures and the banning of religious month Maharram ceremonies.

During a briefing session of the operational staff within the Cabinet of Ministers, it was stated that the opening of mosques was not planned till the end of the year.

Elchin Qasymov, the deputy chairman of the MUM, wrote in his statement,

“Once the quarantine in other countries has been eased, the places of worship were handed over to the worshippers. We would like to see the activities in mosques restored with certain measures aimed at preventing the pandemic in our country.”

At the operational headquarters briefing on quarantine, it was announced that the opening of mosques prior to the end of the year was non-negotiable. This opinion is biased. For no one can predict the course of the ongoing illness. There is enough time. Maybe in a week or month it will be possible to find some remedy to prevent this disease.

The mosques may also be opened according to the rules in force in other countries. The communities of all mosques, as well as those rendering services in the mosques, may regulate these procedures by controlling the wearing of medical masks, the observance of the necessary distance between worshippers, disinfection…”.

After being interrogated in the Sabunchi district police department, E. Qasymov shared that information on his social media page. According to the theologian, he was told by the police that the Caucasus Board of Muslims had a decision regarding the mosques and religious rituals to be followed. It was also forewarned that the police would interfere in gatherings of believers that were not authorized.

 

27 August

Another believer was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest in the town of Yevlakh

Abdulrahim Shahverdiyev

According to the Vetenugrunda.az, on 27 August Abdulrahim Shahverdiyev, a resident of Yevlakh District, was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest for expressing his protest against the ban on attending mosque and participating in Ashura religious event on his social network page. It should be pointed out that it is the second believer who has been issued an administrative sanction for protesting against the closure of mosques in the Yevlakh District on a social network. Earlier, the poet Ghazanfar Fardi, a resident of Yevlakh, was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest for a similar protest against the closure of mosques on a social network.

Aykhan Jamalov and Eldar Mammadov from Shamkir district were each sentenced to 25 days of administrative arrest for protesting against the closure of mosques.

Also, it became known that the theologian, Tahir Ibishov, was sentenced to 25 days of administrative detention for organizing a religious meeting in his house in Saatly District.

 

31 August

Faliq Valiyev trained as a terrorist and diversionist has been detained and taken to Azerbaijan

Faliq Valiyev

As a result of the investigation of the State Security Service of the Azerbaijan, reasonable suspicions were established that a citizen of the Azerbaijan, Faliq Valiyev, was trained in the use of methods of committing terrorist crimes, using firearms, explosives and devices, as well as other dangerous methods and technical means to violate public security, to create panic among the population, to influence decision-making by state bodies, as well as he was involved by foreign special services in exercises of an intelligence and provocative nature, under a personal pseudonym, and he took part in the activities of an illegal armed group created for the purpose of committing serious and especially serious crimes outside the country. Faliq Valiyev was brought as a defendant under articles 12.1, 218.2 (Participation in a criminal association or organization), 12.3, 214-3.1 (Training outside of the Azerbaijan Republic for the purposes of terrorism) and 12.1, 279.1 (Participation in the activities of armed groups not provided for by legislation outside of the Azerbaijan Republic) of the Criminal code of the Azerbaijan Republic, according to the judicial court he was imposed a pre-trial resistant and announced for international search.

After Faliq Valiyev entered the territory of the Russian Federation, he was detained under the mutual legal assistance procedure for international search and extradited to the Azerbaijan on 27 August 2020.

The criminal investigation is currently ongoing.

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ARESTS IN JULY 2020

ARRESTS IN JULY 2020

28 July

Russia extradited a member of illegal armed groups to Azerbaijan

Mehdi Shukurov

According to the information of the State Security of Azerbaijan, on 28 July 2020 the Russian authorities extradited to Azerbaijan Mehdi Aflatun oglu Shukurov, an Azerbaijani accused of participating in illegal armed groups in a number of foreign countries under the religious name “Mukhtar”.

Aflatun Shukurov was charged under the Articles 12.3, 214-3.1 (Terrorist training outside the Azerbaijan Republic) and 12.1, 279.1 (Participation in armed groups outside the Azerbaijan Republic) of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic.

Previously, he was put on the international wanted list. After appearing on the territory of Russia, he was detained and, according to the agreement on mutual legal assistance, was extradited to Azerbaijan. The criminal investigation is ongoing.

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ARESTS IN JUNE 2020

ARRESTS IN JUNE 2020

16 June

Member of the Muslim Unity Movement Detained

Samir Babayev

On 1 June, a member of the Muslim Unity Movement Samir Babayev was detained. As members of this public organization told Turan Agency, Samir Babayev was detained in the morning by people in civilian clothes in front of his uncle’s house. He was put in a white car and taken away in an unknown direction.

It was not possible to get a comment at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

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ARRESTS IN MAY 2020

ARRESTS IN MAY 2020

16 May

A wanted Islamist was detained for involvement in the foreign illegal  armed gangs

Saleh Adilov

The Azerbaijani State Security Service reported that as a result of joint search operations carried out along with the Turkish Intelligence Services, an Azerbaijani citizen, Saleh Adilov, d.o.b. 1984, was detained and brought to our country.

According to the information, in 2008, Saleh Adilov along with other members of a religious radical gang attacked a combat post of military unit N in the Terter region. As a result, one soldier was killed and another seriously injured, and weapons and ammunition were stolen from the site of the attack.

Saleh Adilov managed to escape prosecution and left the territory of Azerbaijan heading to Iran on 14 May, 2009, where he took part in the illegal armed units operating outside the country. Quite soon he found himself in the North Waziristan Province of Pakistan, via Iran, where he joined a terrorist group affiliated with the “Taliban” and led by Vugar Hajizada.

Following the 2010 assassination of V.Hajizada by the international anti-terrorist coalition, Saleh Adilov took over the leadership of the group. In 2014, he was arrested by the Iranian law enforcement authorities while attempting to secretly travel to Turkey and from there to Syria.

After his release in 2019, Saleh Adilov illegally sneaked into Turkey and hid there, where he was captured in the city of Van.

A criminal investigation against him is currently ongoing.

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ARRESTS IN MARCH 2019

ARRESTS IN MARCH 2020

3 March

Ilham Aliyev has been accused of collaboration with Iranian intelligence services.

Ilham Aliyev

Ilham Aliyev (a namesake of the Azerbaijani President), who has been an acting Chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan since 2011, was detained on 29 February 2020. That day he was summoned to the State Security Service where he was convicted under the Article 274 (Treason to the Motherland) of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic and immediately arrested.

On 2 March 2020 the Sabayil District Court of Baku City chose a measure of restraint arrest for 4 months.

At the court, I. Aliyev’s defence was represented by a lawyer appointed by the authorities, who, in his turn, was not active throughout the trial. The relatives of the arrested man engaged another lawyer, Osman Kazimov, who submitted an appeal against his unlawful detention on 3 March.

“Ilham Aliyev had an appointed lawyer at the trial. I was engaged by Aliyev’s family to defend him. I have not seen my client yet.  So far, I have not been able to contact the investigator in order to get a written document enabling me to meet with my client in the detention centre. I hope I will be allowed to see him in the next few days. Today, on 3 March, I wrote an appeal against Osman’s arrest. The Law stipulates that an appeal can be lodged without the defendant’s knowledge”, Kazimov told the press.

Further, the lawyer added that he has not familiarised himself with the details of the accusation yet.

“All we know is that the IPA chairman is accused of collaborating with the Iranian intelligence services,” he explained.

In their turn, on 1 March, the IPA leaders, who remained at large, circulated a statement on the party’s Facebook page stating that Aliyev had not committed any crimes and should be immediately released:

“We, the members of the IPA board, are certain that Ilham Aliyev has had no acts of a criminal nature. We view his detention as a misunderstanding and biased. We consider it as a wrongful step against the Islamic theologian, as a violation of human rights, as an unacceptable act in a country that has chosen the democratic course of development.”

 

15 March

An activist of the “Muslim Unity” Movement has been again arrested

Elvin Muradov

On 13 March 2020, Elvin Muradov, a member of the Muslim Unity Movement and poet, left his home in Baku to attend the Friday prayers at the mosque, whereupon his phone line was cut off and his family did not know what had happened to him. His family members being concerned called the Ministry of Interior Affaires hotline and also contacted the Yasamal district administration office. But they were unable to clarify the fate of the religious activist. On March 14, the relatives called the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where they were told that Elvin Muradov had been detained but he would soon be released. The same answer was also provided to them on 15 March.

Arzu Abdulla, a member of the Public Committee on the Protection of the Rights of the Islamists Under Arrest, said the following about the religious activist who had been detained:

“Elvin is a member of the “Muslim Unity” Movement. He is the author of a poem and song dedicated to Tal Bagirzade, the leader of the Movement who, in 2017, was arrested and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, the poem was about the unjustified persecution of him and his agony for his expressions. Elvin also wrote some other pro-choice lyrics, which are popular among the believers. Elvin has been living in Russia for some time. On 5 February, upon his arrival, he was detained and taken to the General Department on Combating Organized Crime, where he was held until midnight and then released. It happened close to the time of the Parliamentary elections and his arrest could have raised considerable international attention. And now he has been arrested again.”

Elvin Muradov’s song about Tal Bagirzade is called “Freedom Worshipper”. The author shared it on his Youtube channel, Elvin Murvetoglu, on 12 December 2019, and in a short time the song had been listened to by a great number of people.

On 5 February 2020, Muradov was already detained shortly after returning from Moscow. He was taken to the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and released late in the evening.

 

19 March

A “Muslim Unity” Movement activist faces criminal charges

Elvin Muradov

It was not until 16 March 2020, that details of the 13 March arrest and the charges brought against Elvin Muradov, a member of the “Muslim Unity” Movement and poet, finally became known. Initially, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs Muradov’s relatives were told that they had no information about the religious activist. Then, they confirmed his location but assured that he would be released in a short while. It was only on 16 March that an investigator called Elvin’s family to inform them that back on 14 March, the Narimanov District Court of Baku had selected a preventive measure against Muradov in the form of three-month-detain on charges of illegal weapons trafficking. Then he was transferred to the Baku Pre-trial Detention Centre 1 in the town of Kyurdakhani located outside Baku.

Arzu Abdulla, a member of the Public Committee on the Protection of Rights of the Islamists Under Arrest, as well as Muradov’s relatives, have doubts about the credibility of the charges and have stressed that there had been procedural irregularities in Muradov’s case.

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ARRESTS IN FEBRUARY 2020

ARRESTS IN FEBRUARY 2020

5 February

Religious activist detained

Elvin Muradov

Member of the Muslim Unity Movement (MUM) Elvin Muradov was detained on 5 February 2020 at the Baku airport upon arrival from Moscow. This was reported by his relatives.

He has been working in Russia for a long time and periodically comes to Baku. The last time he was in Azerbaijan six months ago.

“This time he came in connection with the state of health and the birthday of the child. At 13:30 on arrival in Baku, he was detained at the airport by police. After that, there is no information about him,” said Muradov’s relatives.

They believe that Muradov was detained because of songs performed in defense of the convicted MUM leader, Tale Bagirzade.

“Murad is a poet and songwriter. Probably, he was arrested for poems and songs about Tale and other prisoners,” said relatives.

The attempts to get comments in the Ministry of Internal Affairs were futile.

 

6 February

Religious activist released after being detained at airport

Elvin Muradov

Elvin Muradov, a member of the Muslim Unity Movement (MUM), who was detained at the Baku airport and was arriving from Moscow the day before, was released late in the evening.

As it became known, Elvin Muradov was taken from the airport to the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and released only at 23:00.

MUM linked the detention of Elvin Muradov, who lives mainly in Russia, with the writing of poems and songs about the organization’s leader Tale Bagirzade and other arrested activists.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs did not comment on the reason for the detention of Elvin Muradov.

 

29 February

Acting chair of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan arrested

Ilham Aliyev

On 29 February 2020, Ilham Aliyev (a namesake of the Azerbaijani President), the acting Chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, was summoned to the State Security Service of Azerbaijan. Since then, all communications with him have been lost.

* The leader of the party, Movsum Samadov, was arrested on 7 January 2011 on charge of treason (Article 274 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic). He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on 7 October 2011 on charges of trying to forcibly overthrow the constitutional order and create a religious state in the country.

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ARRESTS IN JANUARY 2020

17 January

Russia extradited person involved in “Ganja case” to Azerbaijan

Mushfiq Qurbanov

Mushfiq Qurbanov, who was declared internationally wanted in the “Ganja case”, was brought from Moscow to Azerbaijan and detained in the Pre-trial Detention Center No. 1 of Kyurdakhani near Baku, said his mother Anisa Qurbanova on 17 January 2020.

Qurbanov was put on the wanted list by the decision of the Nasimi District Court on 15 July 2018. In particular, he is accused of attempted murder, terrorism, illegal possession of weapons, inciting sectarianism, an attempt to change forcibly the constitutional order, etc.

According to his mother, M. Qurbanov left for Russia to earn money in February 2017. In October 2018, he was detained in the courtyard of the house where he lived. And then it turned out that he was put on an international wanted list in Azerbaijan, continued A. Qurbanova.

“My son did not know Yunis Safarov (he committed an attempt on the former head of Ganja on 3 July 2018). We don’t know what my son has to do with this matter,” continued A. Qurbanova.

She noted that M. Qurbanov spent 1 year and 3 months in a pre-trial detention center in Moscow and during that time, no investigative actions were taken against him.

“In April 2019, the term for the measure of restraint of arrest expired and the Moscow court found that the evidence presented was not sufficient. Nevertheless, despite the lawyer’s requests for the release of my son, the court left him in custody,” Anisa Qurbanova said.

According to A. Qurbanova, she only learned on 17 January that her son was taken to Baku and he was in a pre-trial detention center in Kyurdakhani. However, she does not know when her son was brought to Baku. A. Qurbanova noted, her son suffers from a mental illness and epilepsy.

“He receives treatment for these diseases and has medical certificates and prescriptions from doctors,” the woman said.

The attempts to get comments from the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Prison Service of Azerbaijan were futile.

 

23 January

Russia extradites another person involved in “Ganja case” to Azerbaijan

Yusif Sadiqov

Yusif Sadiqov, put on the international wanted list in connection with the Ganja events, was extradited to Azerbaijan on 21 January 2020, after a long time in one of the Moscow pretrial detention centers.

This was reported by his relatives on 22 January 2020. According to them, Y. Sadigov is imprisoned in the Pre-trial Detention Center No. 1 of Kyurdakhani.

According to the same sources, Y. Sadigov was prosecuted for revealing his telephone conversations with Yunis Safarov, accused of attempting to assassinate former head of Ganja Elmar Valiyev. Sadiqov’s relatives declare his not involvement in any crimes.

Sadiqov became the second person involved in the “Ganja case” extradited to Azerbaijan from Russia recently. Earlier, Mushfiq Qurbanov, who was declared internationally wanted in the Ganja case, was transferred to Azerbaijan.

Law enforcement agencies do not comment on reports of extradition of persons involved in the “Ganja case”.

 

 

31 January

Muslim Unity Movement declared pressure on its members

Logo of the Muslim Unity Movement

According to the statement of the Muslim Unity Movement, in recent days, six activists of the Movement have been summoned to the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The Movement does not disclose the names of these activists, but it is regarded as pressure on them.

“Law enforcement agencies impede our legitimate activities. We will inform international organizations and the diplomatic corps about this,” the document says.

The attempts to get a comment at the Ministry of Internal Affairs were futile.

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In Azerbaijan a critic of the Aliyev regime has been arrested without any reason

IN AZERBAIJAN A CRITIC OF THE ALIYEV REGIME HAS BEEN ARRESTED WITHOUT ANY REASON

Maqsud Aliyev

Analysis of violation of law during Maqsud Aliyev’s judicial proceedings

Baku City Binagadi District Court

Case №3 (001)-2517/2022

17 August 2022 

Judge: Abbas Rzayev

The person against whom an administrative record was issued: Maqsud Aliyev

Defendant: Elnura Zeynalova

The person who drew up the administrative report: Vusal Hidayatzade, a Lieutenant serving as a district police officer at the 40th Police Station of the Binagadi District Police Directorate

Maqsud Aliyev, born in 1995, a university graduate, is a politically active member of the youth movement who openly expresses his critical position on social networks and at a range of events focusing on the political situation in Azerbaijan. Previously, he was a member of the opposition D18 Movement.

According to the police version, Maqsud Aliyev was detained on the following grounds: At about 19:35 on 16 August 2022, M. Aliyev, used cursed language when he was in the 28 May settlement of Binagadi district however, these obscene words were not addressed to anyone. The police officers urged him to order but he did not follow their legitimate demands.

An administrative report was made against M. Aliyev for allegedly violating the Article 535.1 (Failure to obey the legitimate demands of a policeman) of Azerbaijan’s Code of Administrative Offences.

In the course of the trial, M. Aliyev testified that he had been innocent, had not committed any administrative offence, called the administrative protocol unreasonable and unlawful, and asked the court to terminate the administrative proceedings against him.

The policeman, Vusal Hidayatzade, who drew an administrative protocol against Maqsud Aliyev, interrogated by the court, said that on 16 August 2022, M. Aliyev cursed, for which he was called to order but did not obey the legitimate demands of the police officer.

The Court considered M. Aliyev’s testimony as a tactic of defence, with the help of which he tried to avoid the administrative punishment.

On 17 August 2022, the Baku City Binagadi District Court found Maqsud Aliyev guilty of committing an administrative offense and sentenced him to 30 days of administrative detention.

 

Commentary by expert lawyer:

The court verdict is unlawful and unjustified. Like other hundreds administrative cases against political and civil society activists, this one was no exception. All the rulings seem to have been copy-matched from one another. The same phrases, similar arguments and the absence of any evidence whatsoever.

In the ruling against M. Aliyev, there was only one person who testified in the court, a district police officer Vusal Hidayatzade. Therefore, his testimony did not differ from the administrative report that he had drawn up himself.

The court ruling also states that M. Aliyev used obscene language in “a public gathering place”. Despite the police officer’s argument, not a single person who, according to the police, was nearby and heard the swearing was called as a eyewitness in the case. There is no evidence against Maqsud Aliyev in the case, other than the administrative report and V.Hidayatzade’s testimony.

Nevertheless, the Court found the police officer’s testimony irrefutable, whereas M.Aliyev’s testimony was found to be an avoidable one.

One of the principles of administrative proceedings is the presumption of innocence.

According to the Code of the Azerbaijan Republic On administrative violations,

8.1. The person with respect to whom a case on administrative violation is pleaded shall not be found guilty if his guiltiness was not proved in the order provided by this Code, and not established by the acting resolution of the court, authorized body (official) considering the case on administrative violation.

8.2. The person being called to account for administrative violation has not to prove his guiltlessness.

8.3. Doubts regarding the guiltiness of the person called to account for administrative violation shall be resolved in his favour.

8.2. The Article 8.2 state, that the person being called to account for administrative violation has not to prove his guiltlessness. Despite the existence of this norm, and in accordance with the most important principle of any legal procedure (the Presumption of Innocence), the police officer failed to prove M. Aliyev’s guilt, because he did not provide the court with any evidence. Either, not a single witness statement has been submitted to the court.

Under the Article 75 of the Administrative Offences Code, in a case of administrative misconduct, it should be determined:

  • the event of an administrative offence (whether an administrative offence has occurred);
  • a perpetrator of an administrative offence;
  • the circumstances aggravating and mitigating administrative liability;
  • the nature and extent of the damage resulting from the administrative

offence;

  • the guilt of the individual committed an administrative offence;
  • circumstances precluding proceedings in cases of administrative offences;
  • other relevant circumstances for the appropriate determination of the case as well as the causes and conditions that contributed to the administrative offence commission.

In accordance with the Article 76.1 of the Code on Administrative Offences, the proofs in an administrative offence case shall be any factual information on the basis of which the judge, the authorized body (official) determine the existence or absence of an administrative offence, guilt of the perpetrator and other circumstances relevant to the proper adjudication of the case. These data shall be ascertained through physical items of evidence, explanations of the perpetrator, testimonies of the victims, witnesses, other documents, depositions of special technical means, experts’ conclusions, the protocol of administrative offence, and other reports as defined in the Code.

The Article 535.1 of the Administrative Offences Code, which M. Aliyev was charged with violating, stipulates the penalties (punishments). Thus, it states that for a violation of the Article the punishment shall be a fine of two hundred manats imposed on individuals, and if, in the circumstances of the case, taking into account the offender’s personal characteristics, the application of these measures would be deemed insufficient, an administrative detention for a period of up to one month.

Apparently, the Article stipulates an alternative penalty that is not related to arrest, i.e. an administrative fine. The Court even did not consider the option of imposing a non-custodial administrative sanction. Furthermore, there was no evidence provided in the ruling that a fine would have been insufficient. When imposing an administrative charge, the Court did not take into account either M. Aliyev’s personality or his university education and advanced cultural level.

Despite the fact that M. Aliyev’s guilt was not proven, his right to liberty was violated. The right to liberty is also guaranteed by the International Norms of Law.

According to the Article 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan,

  1. Everyone has the right for freedom.
  2. Right for freedom might be restricted only as specified by law, by way of detention, arrest or imprisonment.

The International Juridical Norms also point to the Right to Liberty. According to the Article 5 (1) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

  1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;

This Norm guarantees a fundamental right among the most important rights: the right to liberty and personal inviolability. It is an inalienable right that a person cannot renounce. The guarantees enshrined in the Article 5 are applicable to everyone. Any individual either at liberty or in custody has this right.

There must be substantive justifications for a deprivation of liberty. As it said in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, it should be a reasonable suspicion that an individual has committed an offence, which justifies his or her deprivation of liberty. Therefore, only a reasonable suspicion is an essential element within the Convention’s protection in respect of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. The determination of a reasonable suspicion presupposes the existence of facts or information that would persuade an objective observer that a person could have committed the offence.

The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Lawless v Ireland dated 14 November, 1960, states that

“the Convention aims at protecting liberty and security of persons against unlawful arrest and detention”. – https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22fulltext%22:[%22\%22CASE%20OF%20LAWLESS%20v.%20IRELAND%20(No.%201)\%22%22],%22documentcollectionid2%22:[%22GRANDCHAMBER%22,%22CHAMBER%22],%22itemid%22:[%22001-57516%22]}

In the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Kurt v. Turkey dated 25 May, 1998, it is written:

The Court emphasizes the fundamental importance of guarantees of individuals’ rights against unlawful arrest or detention by the authorities in a democratic society, as set out in the Article 5. That is why the Court has repeatedly stressed in its judgments that any deprivation of liberty must be exercised not only in accordance with the substantive procedural provisions of a National Law but also comply with the objectives laid down in the Article 5, i.e. to protect the individual from arbitrariness of the authorities. This urge to protect the individual against any form of abuse committed by the State authorities is corroborated by the fact that the Article 5 § 1 narrows down the grounds on which a person may be lawfully deprived of his liberty, although these grounds cannot be broadly interpreted since they are exceptions within the fundamental guarantees of a person’s individual liberty.

https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22fulltext%22:[%22kurt%20v.%22],%22documentcollectionid2%22:[%22GRANDCHAMBER%22,%22CHAMBER%22],%22itemid%22:[%22001-58198%22]}

Thus, the subjective, biased and unfair judicial consideration of Maqsud Aliyev’s administrative case has resulted in the violation of a fundamental right, the Right to Freedom.

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