TORTURE IN AUGUST 2019
The agency Veten ugrunda published the convicted in the “Ganja case” Shahin Verdiyev’s letter on 7 August. The letter was sent to his mother from the prison on 28 July 2019. Shahin described horrible tortures he had been subjected to after his arrest in Ganja.
It is written in the letter that Shahin Verdiyev witnessed the events in the center of Ganja by accident on 10 July 2018. When he saw the crowd, he and his friend Elmir Huseynzade headed towards the administrative executive power building and then to the hotel “Ganja». There they saw the police officers carrying in their arms a policeman.
“We entered the mosque courtyard and kept going in direction to our place of residence, but there were people running around and we decided to move away from there,” Verdiyev wrote. But in the chaos, the two friends lost each other. Later, Shahin Verdiyev found out that his friend had been captured. However, at that time he went to the village of Khoylu in the Tartar district, where his father was dying.
A few days later, his father died. When he was preparing for the funeral, two policemen cars drove into the village and they said, “You killed your father, you have to come with us to give us an explanation”. He trusted them and went to the Goranboy district police department, and two hours later he was taken with his hands tied to the Nizami district police department in Ganja.
When he was brought to the police department, to some room where, besides the chief, there were also many people in the civil clothes. He was shown a video and asked if he recognized himself and what he was doing there. Verdiyev replied positively and said that he had become a witness while he had been just passing by. Immediately after that, several people started beating him up. “Knocked down, several people in civil clothes dragged me into another room, keeping beating me on the way. I was tied to a chair in that room, my hands were also tied in the back, and my eyes were covered with the police shoulder straps and taped. I was beaten so much that my whole body was covered in blood. I was thrown up tied to the chair to the ceiling and pushed on the floor several times, then beaten with truncheons or whatever they could catch. Then they stopped and opened my eyes. There were only two policemen left in the room. ”
He fainted from the brutal beatings. The doctors called in by the police brought Verdiyev to his senses. “Early morning I was taken to the policeman on duty room, behind the bars. But not for a long time. They came to get and take me up to the second floor, where I saw 3-4 policemen. They tied my arms and legs to two chairs and I was hanging in the air in this position. Meanwhile, the police were beating me on the stomach, body and head with truncheons.”
When the police officers got tired of doing it, they were replaced by others. They were beating him non-stop. He did not receive any food, any water.
Then the policemen told him to wash up and took him to the toilet. His hands were handcuffed from behind. “I saw that the sink was full of water. They pushed my head in the water and kept me there for a long time. I was drowning… My heart was ready to explode. At some point, when I thought I was going to suffocate, my head was raised, I was again beaten, and put back into the sink. Then they dragged me to another room and continued to beat me there.”
His handcuffed hands were in the wounds and blood. Then they uncuffed him and tied his hands tightly with a rope.
Beatings and bullying had been going on for several days. He was demanded to admit that he had known the riots organizers, in particular, the one who had been killed during the arrest, a man whose name was Rashad, “On the phone I was shown a photo, the corpse of this Rashad whose hands were tied, his face and the whole body were black. I saw obvious traces of bullets on his body. The policeman told me that if I wouldn’t confess that I had known that Rashad, I would face his fate. But I replied that that I had never met him and I had happened to be at the square by accident, after which I was tortured with a 20-25 cm long stun gun. A current passed through my body for just 3-5 seconds, but those seconds seemed to me like eternity.”
He fainted because of those tortures, and the doctor took care of him giving him a shot until he got conscious again. Then the torture with current continued. “I could not control my teeth trembling each time the current passed through my body. I still remember my teeth knocking. When I fainted, they poured water on me to bring me back to my senses and then let the current pass through me again. And again, I fainted…”
When Shahin Verdiyev recovered, he saw that the doctors giving him an injection, “They said that I was in bad condition. But the police said to them “he will not die, you have brought him to consciousness and now you can leave.” The beatings were replaced by electrocution and stun guns. And it had been lasted for several days. From time to time some unknown people in civil clothes entered the room demanding me to sign a confession. My attempts to read what was written in this testimony ended up in beatings. That was quietly watched by a man who called himself Araz, apparently my lawyer. I was exhausted, I could not tolerate those tortures anymore, and I signed all the documents that I had been handed,” Verdiyev wrote in his letter.
After that, he was taken to the district court of Ganja. He continued to be beaten by the police officers on the way and even in front of a judge in the courthouse. The judge looked indifferently at the detainee and sentenced him to four months imprisonment. After that, Shahin Verdiyev was brought back to the Ganja prison, where the officers kept beating him and three other prisoners and, then they all were thrown into a disciplinary cell, handcuffed to a bed and tied to a chair. All this time they were not allowed to drink or eat.
“Late we were taken to the doctors and they recorded numerous wounds on our bodies. But for some reason I have not seen these doctors’ records anywhere afterwards”, concluded Sh. Verdiyev.
Those brutal tortures and assaults on prisoners had been going on for several months. On 25 July 2019, Verdiyev and other detainees were transferred to the Kyurdakhani detention centre, where the tortures and harassment continued.
Mirza Huseynov, a 24-year-old prisoner, wrote a letter to the Judge of the Ganja Court of Serious Crimes, Dadash Imanov, complaining about the police brutality in his native town. His mother, Etibar Huseynov, decided to give a copy of his letter to the mass media, particularly to the correspondent of the agency Veten ugrunda, the letter in which her son described the tortures he had been subjected to.
In his letter he wrote that he had learned from Facebook about the upcoming protest action in Ganja on 10 July 2018, «I was curious and went to the square where I saw a lot of people gathering all over the place. Suddenly I heard screams, people started running in different directions, and I ran as well.”
On 29 July, in the evening, when he was returning home, three policemen approached him and suddenly pushed him into the car. He was brought to the Kyapaz Police Station and asked if he had known Rashad. Having heard the negative reply, four policemen at a time attacked him, “They covered my eyes with the police shoulder straps with scotch tape on the top. Then they started beating me with their fists and legs, demanding to confess that I knew that unknown for me Rashad. But I answered that I had not ever me him and I had not been guilty in anything. But they beat me again and again,” M. Huseynov wrote in a letter.
Then he was brought to the Nizami Police Department in Ganja, where they demonstrated a video capturing M. Huseynov running. He was forced to sign some documents. There was a man in the room who called himself his lawyer, «I signed all the required papers without reading them to stop the tortures. After that I was literally dragged into the office of the Pre-Trial Detention Center chief of the Ganja Police Department. There I also signed some papers at his request, and after that I was pushed into the cell”.
Huseynov’s hope that the tortures would be stopped was not realized. On the contrary, he was tortured and beaten every day, “My hands were handcuffed, I was drugged to another room, where four policemen were beating me demanding to sign something again. But I insisted to have a lawyer. Instead, they passed a current through my body and I fainted. I was splashed with cold water and regained consciousness. Then they pulled a cellophane net over my head and I began choking. When I was suffocating and thought I was going to die, they stopped it and I was able to breathe. Then the cellophane was squeezed again… Someone came into the room and asked if I had signed the papers. When he heard a negative answer, he hit with all his strength my face. I was in a very bad shape, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and signed their papers. Then I found out who was that man. It was the Series Crimes investigator of the General Prosecutor’s Office, Orhan Babayev,” M. Huseynov wrote in his letter.
Investigator of the General Prosecutor’s Office, Orhan Babayev
Only after that a lawyer was allowed to enter the room, and M. Huseynov told him that he couldn’t stand the tortures and signed all the papers that he had been given. Together with his lawyer he was taken to the Nizami district court, “The lawyer told me to keep silence and he would decide himself what to do. Both he and the judge saw that I had been bleeding and could hardly stand on my feet. But I was given 4 months of arrest and returned to the cell of the Ganja city prison.
“On 24 July, in the evening, we were transferred to the Kyurdakhani Pre-trial Detention Centre in Baku, and since then I have been there. Later on, I heard a voice of one of those who tortured me. It was Elshan Mehdiyev. And I wrote about him to the court.”
Theologian Ruhulla Akhundzade
A prisoner, theologian Ruhulla Akhundzade, the Chairman of the Astara District Organization of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, had serious health problems. His health issues were reported to the agency Turan by his relatives, “His legs got paralyzed. We demand the prison administration to provide Ruhulla with urgent treatment,” Akhundzade’s family member said to the agency Turan correspondent.
Ruhulla Akhundzade was arrested in January 2011. Also in 2011, the Baku Court of Serious Crimes sentenced him to 11.5 years imprisonment on charges of attempting to change the constitutional order, setting up an armed group, illegal possession of weapons, etc. He denied all accusations. Human rights activists recognized him as a political prisoner.
After his arrest, in 2013, he underwent a heart surgery.
Another letter from a “Ganja case” prisoner concerning the brutal torture he had been subjected to, appeared in the media. This time, a copy of the letter was handed over to the correspondent of the agency Veten ugrunda by the mother of the accused Vugar Yusifov, whose case had being considered by the Judge Dadash Imanov in the Sabunchi District Court in Baku.
The defendant wrote that he came from Shamkir to Ganja to buy a phone in the evening on 10 July 2018. Since the shops had been already closed, he could not make the purchase. Having read the information about the rally on social networks, he suggested his fellow traveler Elish to go to the direction of the administrative building and see what was going on there.
When they were about to leave, suddenly there heard some shouting, “When I turned around, I saw two people lying on the road at about 80-90 meters away from me, and another one with a dagger in his hands. “ In order to find out what was going on, V. Yusifov went in the direction where the crowd was running down as well. “I was looking for my friend Elish in the crowd, and the video footage clearly showed that I was looking for someone. Rashad Boyukkishiyev, accused of two policemen murder, passed by me. That frame was used in the investigation as an accusation against me,” V. Yusifov wrote in his letter.
On 23 July, he was detained and taken to the Kyapaz Police Station in Ganja, where several police officers were beating him for hours and passing periodically electric current through him. The pain was so unbearable that “I could not stand it and tried to kill myself throwing out of the second floor window. But I failed to do it because my hands were handcuffed behind my back,” Yusifov wrote.
For several days they brutally tortured me and demanded to sign some papers. Finally, I couldn’t stand it and signed without reading it, I wanted the torture to be stopped. The state-appointed lawyer also signed the papers without reading them. If I’m not mistaken, his name was Tazagul and he was from Mingachevir. I was told so, he did not introduce himself to me,” V. Yusifov said in his letter.
After that he was brought to court, “I could hardly stand on my feet, my whole body was covered with wounds. The judge also saw it, but he quickly sentenced me to 4 months of arrest and I was brought back to the cell of the Kyapaz police station in Ganja. At first, the policemen wanted to continue beating, but they realized that I was in a very bad shape and sent me to cell # 58 of the 3rd ward of the city prison. I could not even get up. But I was able to get back on my feet with my cellmates help in a month. All that time I was not allowed to meet or talk to my relatives by phone. Later I found out that all those arrested in connection with these events had been sent to Baku. Only I was in a Ganja prison for a month and a half, because the policemen were waiting until my terrible wounds would be cured. And only after that I was brought to Baku,» said in the letter.
During the house and cell phone search nothing illegal was found by the police. However, Yusifov was accused of preparing a murder, participating in mass riots, trafficking of weapons and violence against the police. “I have been under the arrest for 13 months and I still don’t know what I am accused of. I just wanted to see the action. The video captured me walking around the square and not touching anybody, I did not have any guns, stone, any nothing. I wasn’t shouting anything, I was just watching, and that’s all. What kind of participation in the riots are we talking about? I don’t know any of the other detainees. I was detained on 23 July. If I had been guilty, I would have hidden during those 13 days,” Yusifov wrote in conclusion.