TORTURE IN JULY 2019
A 22-year-old believer, Jahad Babakishizade, from the village of Nardaran, was seriously wounded, the bullet injured his lungs during a police operation on 26 November 2015. He was sentenced to 14,5 years imprisonment on 25 January 2017. Due to the lack of qualified medical care in Gobustan Closed Prison he faced serious health problems. His relatives told a correspondent of the agency Veten ugrunda, “From the moment of his injury and arrest, Jahad needs serious medical assistance. We officially appealed two times to the prison administration asking to transfer him to the Medical Unit of the Penitentiary Service. But it has not been done”.In response to the request from Radio Azadliq (Liberty), Mehman Sadigov, head of the Penitentiary Service’s Public Relations Department, said that it had been impossible to transfer a prisoner to the Medical Unit without a medical examination by their doctor. But there was no such a report.
In turn, Deputy Head of the General Medical Department of the Penitentiary Service, Iftikhar Qurbanov, said that Babakishizade’s state of health had been stable and his life has not been jeopardized, and therefore he was not entitled to treatment.
On 09 July 2018, Aydyn Qurbanov, who had been arrested on 30 July 2018 in connection to the “Ganja case”, died in the Medical Unit of the Penitentiary Service. His wife Mahbuba Qurbanova passed that news to the agency Veten ugrunda. She said that her husband, who worked as a broker, was in perfect health prior to his arrest. A month after the assassination attempt on Elmar Valiyev, the Head of the city of Ganja, A. Qurbanov was arrested and demanded to plead himself guilty in financing the mayor’s assassination attempt. Moreover, he had been also obliged to take over the financing and protest actions in Ganja on 10 July. But A. Qurbanov categorically denied to plead himself guilty, and then he was subjected to terrible torture. As his wife said, “He was regularly beaten and electrocuted day and night for some months. When I finally met him 10 months later in prison, I simply did not recognize him. His hands were shaking.”
She added that his internal bleeding started in early March 2019, but he was not examined by the doctors in the Pre-trial Detention Centre. Only when his disease worsened he was finally transferred to a prison hospital on 15 March. In May, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and it turned out that the illness had caused metastases and liver damage. “We have repeatedly asked to release Aydyn because he was already terminally ill,” said Mahbuba Qurbanova. But she and her lawyer, Aqil Lagich, were constantly turned down.
On 08 July Mahbuba Qurbanova visited her husband for the last time and during the meeting Aydyn started vomiting with blood and lost his consciousness collapsing into coma. “Then I went to the Prosecutor General’s Office, where I met with Vugar Nasibov, Deputy Head of the Investigation Department for Serious Crimes. I asked him to let me take Aydyn home that at least he could die at home. The investigator refused to do it explaining that we should wait for the trial,” Mahbuba Qurbanova said. On 10 July, at night, an officer of the Penitentiary Service called her announcing Aydyn Qurbanov’s death.
The prisoner’s death caused a resonance and a great reaction in society. A human right activist Oqtay Gulaliyev expressed the citizens’ opinion saying that the authorities had been responsible for Aydyn Qurbanov’s death and pointed out, “What happened to Aydyn Qurbanov is an indicator of cruelty against him. The man was slandered, arrested, tortured and as a result of all this he lost his life.”
The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Penitentiary Service of Ministry of Justice have issued a joint statement that a 52-year-old Aydyn Qurbanov had been arrested on charges under the Article 228.3 (Illegal possession, transfer, sell, storage and carrying of firearm) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic. It was also said, “Some media reported that Aydyn Qurbanov allegedly died as a result of tortures, which is absolutely false. Whilst he had been in the Medical Unit of the Penitentiary Service neither he or his relatives complained about tortures he had been subjected on. During the examination, treatment and also after his death there were no either traces of tortures or injuries on his body”.
The society did not accept the authorities official statement concerning Aydyn Qurbanov’s death in the Medical Unit of the Penitentiary Service. Aydyn Qurbanov was accused in participation at so called “Ganja case”. His case caused a discussion in Azerbaijani Parliament. Thus, the Prosecutor General office made another statement on 12 July. It was said, “Despite an intensive medical treatment at Pre-trial Detention Centre of the Ministry of Justice the accused Aydyn Qurbanov died at 21:50 on 09 July.”Based on the information received from the Prosecutor’s Office of Nizami district the prosecutor’s investigator along with a forensic medical examiner, a medical ward representative and some witnesses inspected a room where the treatment had been provided. Then, in order to find out the cause of his death at midnight of 10 July, A. Qurbanov’s body was sent to the Nizami District Department of the Forensic Medical Expertise and Pathology Anatomy Association. At 10 o’clock in the morning on 10 July, forensic examiners along with the decease’s nephew Suliddin Bayramov examined Aydyn Qurbanov’s body. The examination did not show any trace of injuries or other damages. The same day at 13:30 the body was returned to the decease’s wife and relatives.
The head of the Committee Against Repressions and Tortures Ogtay Gulaliyev published a list of law enforcement officials who took part in the “Ganja case” accused tortures. The information has been based on the prisoners’ testimonies, their families’ and lawyers’ stories and described in the human right defender’s report as “Ganja events of 2018: terror, provocation and community protests. Reality or Fake news”, and it was displayed to the public. The list included 17 family names of Azerbaijani enforcement officials.
The list includes the names of 17 persons:
- Orkhan Babayev – Investigator of the Investigation Department for Serious Crimes of the General Prosecutor’s Office;
- Adalat Sadigov – the former head of the Nizami District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Samir Bayramov – Deputy Chief of the battalion of the post-patrol service of the General Police Department of Ganja City;
- Shahin Musayev – Head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Kyapaz District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Vugar Qarayev – Deputy Head of the Kyapaz District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Afgan Ismayilov – Senior Officer of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Nizami District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Shirkhan Rustamov – overseer of the bullpen of the General Police Department of the Ganja City;
- Alaskar Tagiyev – officer of the Nizami District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Bakhtiyar Abbasov – senior police sergeant of the Nizami District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Elshan Mehdiyev – senior officer of the criminal investigation department of the Kyapaz District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Nizami Askarov – officer of the Kyapaz District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Parviz Maharramli – officer of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Nizami District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Sanan Verdiyev – officer of the Nizami District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Vusal Qurbanov – officer of the Kyapaz District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Ilqar Mahammadov – employee of the bullpen of the General Directorate of the Police of Ganja City;
- Huseyn Huseynzade – officer of the post patrol service of the Kyapaz District Police Department of Ganja City;
- Tajaddin Mammadov – employee of the bullpen of the General Police Department of Ganja City.
Besides, there are other individuals of the government enforcement who subjected tortures on prisoners, and whose name were known to the inmates, However, the human rights defenders have not been able to determine their positions yet.
Elmir Huseynzade and his letter from the prison
Elmir Huseynzade, accused on “Ganja case”, sent a letter addressed to his relatives on 25 July. The family passed it to the Veten ugrunda agency correspondent. The agency has published the entire text of that letter on 29 July, and we share it with the cuts here:
“On my way back home, I was stopped and detained by two people in civil clothes near the mosque “Shah Abbas”. They brought me to the Nizami District Police Department. By that time there were so many detainees at the police that it was hard to find an empty place. The police without making any distinction between women, kids and men, made all detainees come down on their knees with their face to the wall and hands raised up. Among those people there were 35-year-old women and a 6-or 7- year-old boy standing next to her. The woman got up and said that she had a problem with her knees asking permission to stand up. Some policeman came up to her and suddenly hit her, and then started to curse her. In response to his vulgarity six young men and a few middle aged people got up to protect the woman. At that moment other policemen hurried up and started severely beating all those people. All women and children were crying and screaming… I was stressed to witness all that.
At the same time the policemen convoyed a 22-23-year-old young woman, apparently a journalist since I noticed next a young man with a camera walking beside her who was surrounded by the policemen. The journalist was trying to say to the policemen that their action is unlawful and they had no right do it. She was immediately kicked with a policeman leg. She hit her head and wet herself because of fear and pain, which made the policemen laugh and mock at her. Then they attacked the cameraman and started beating him until his face and body got covered with blood.
… Among those detainees there was a citizen of Turkey who was clueless why he had been brought there. 12-14 policemen hit him and yelled on him “why you came here, you wanted to make a military coup, what did you want to do?” And in response, the Turkish man was telling them that he had come here with his family on a business trip, that he did not understand what had been going on, why he had been caught and what they had wanted. His words made the policemen more anguishes and they beat him more with their fists and legs.
At the end of the corridor I was witnessing the policemen kicking and beating a military man, a major, who was lying on the floor. Cries and screams were all over the place. Suddenly, we heard a phone rang and one of the policemen in civil clothes answered and yelled, “What do you mean by stop? We spent so much effort to prepare it, so many officers were called up, and now what? I will…” Then he cursed and screamed “Stop”, turned around and began to hit anyone on his way. His behaviour made others policemen beat us with their fists, kick us with their feet and truncheon. We were not any longer on the knees, we were on the floor in the pool of blood. I have been beaten by 4-5 policemen for about 15-20 minutes…
In the evening, I along with 10 others were separated from the group and taken to some other place. The policemen were standing in range in the corridor beating everyone who passed by as strong as they could. Beating and cursing us, they managed to put us in two vans “Mercedes-Sprinter” and brought to the Tovuz District Police Department. While we were in the vans, we were not allowed to sit, they put us on the floor and kept beating with truncheon all the way to the Tovuz district. My head was smashed, I was bleeding. Seeing that, the driver told the cops not to dirty his car with blood. Then one of the policemen grabbed my hair and started hitting and dragging me on the floor of the car.
In the Tovuz police department, we were pushed into a cell in the basement where we saw two minors, they were also beaten and bleeding, their clothes were torn off. They were in a terrible state. Meanwhile, the policemen periodically walked into our cell and beat us.
In the morning, 16 hours later after our arrest, we were not given any water, food or medical care. Soon, a man in civilian clothes came into our cell. Apparently, he was an investigator. Some people with papers in their hands followed him. At that moment one of the minors started to shake and fainted. They poured water on him and hardly brought him to his senses. Only after that they gave us water and we were able to regain our senses.
Then we were brought to the Nizami District Curt in Ganja where I was given 20 days of administrative arrest. I didn’t have a lawyer, and I told the judge that I had been beaten up brutally as soon as I started talking, and the police ordered me to keep silence threatening to kill me in case of disobedience. I told the judge that my bleeding wounds on my face and body were speaking instead of me but the judge either did not listen to me, or look at me, he just read his verdict and quickly left. Then I was brought back to the Tovuz Police Station and pushed into the pre-trial detention cell. I have just laid down in order to get rest, as five guards entered the cell. It turned out that there was a video surveillance in the cell and when they saw me lying down, they immediately came in and attacked me with their truncheons. Before they left, they had said that it was forbidden to go to bed and sleep until 22:00.
We were awaken at 8 a.m. every day and banned from going to bed until 10:00 p.m., once a day we were allowed to get out in a small prison yard for 10-15 minutes. On July 20, on the 10th day of my arrest, I was unexpectedly taken to the Nizami District Police Department in Ganja and brought to the office of the head of the department, Adalat Sadigov. There were also 6-7 people in a civil clothes in the room. The head showed me a video asking, “Are you there on video?” I just nodded when Sadigov jumped up and started beating me, and then ordered “Take him to them”. They took me to a poorly lit room and there, someone immediately hit me on the floor, chained my arms and legs, then put shoulder straps on my eyes and bandaged them with scotch, and started beating me. There were about 8-9 tormentors. They put me in this position on the table, and then began to beat me on the heels with truncheons. Then two very large guys climbed onto my back and began to stab me with their feet. They kept beating me from morning till night. I lost consciousness time to time.
At the Nizami District Police Department, the investigator Orhan Babayev interrogated me at some point. I told him everything but when he asked me to sign the testimony, I saw that he had written something completely different there, attributing to me what I had not done. I refused to sign, and then the investigator left the room. Right after two large physically strong guys with fierce facial expressions, not dressed in uniforms, entered the room. They started hitting me and I was like a ball flying from wall to wall. My face was completely covered in blood and I was taken to the toilet to wash my face. However, even there, they continued their torture hitting my head against the tiles, scolding and cursing, threatening to kill me.
I was terrified. I was afraid to be beaten to death, and finally, realizing that I wouldn’t be able to stand it any longer, I agreed to sign this “statement”.
After that, the lawyer appointed by the authorities, Hidayat Mammadov, immediately came but as soon as he saw me beaten and bleeding, refused to sign my “testimony”. The investigator grabbed the lawyer, hit him against the wall and in anger, showing his fist with said, “What do you mean saying you refused to sign? Sign quickly, I am telling you!” The lawyer asked him to stop threatening him and kept saying that he would not sign it. It was as if I had seen a light of hope, but the investigator left the lawyer alone and called someone, after which he handed over the phone to the lawyer. And then I saw as the lawyer signing with shaking hand my testimony and the rest of the papers, after which he left…
After that, I was taken to the Nizami District Court, where I was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment. Then I was taken to the Pre-detention Centre # 2 in Ganja where I was beaten up beforehand and then put in a punishment cell, where I had stayed for 4 days. I could only drink tap water and I was given dried bread twice a day, although I couldn’t eat anything because of the pain.
On 24 July, in the evening, I was brought to Baku Pre-trial Detention Center #1. I hadn’t been in contact with my relatives for 8 months, visits and phone conversations were forbidden. My lawyer could not do anything, and I could read my case papers only 8 months later, when investigation has been completed.
I still do not understand why I was arrested and what I am accused of.
One day, being in my cell I met a guy from Shamkir district whom I was talking to. He said that Rashad Boyukkishiyev, who had been accused by the law enforcement of killing the police colonel Ilqar Balakishiyev in the course of the action on 10 July 2018, hid in his home in Mogul village. “The policemen found out about it and grabbed him calmly waiting up for my return home. As soon as I walked in, the police shot Rashad in front of my eyes and then officially stated that he had been killed, allegedly in an armed resistance. When I heard all this, I realized that the authorities’ official version was fictitious and designed for naive people.
I have been imprisoned for more than a year. I have been a victim of someone’s political games… I have gone through terrible physical and moral torture…
On 14 March 2019, the trial on my case has begun, and it keeps going until now. My case is being conducted by Dadash Imanov, a judge of the Ganja Serious Crimes Court, but all the trials are held in the Sabunchi District Court in Baku. My parents have been traveling from Ganja to Baku all the time, and have been suffering unimaginable hardship since then.
25 July 2019