TRIALS IN AUGUST 2019
The rally in the city of Ganja, 10 July 2018
The Baku Appeal Court chaired by the Judge Chingiz Mammadov held a regular trial on the case of July 2018 events in Ganja concerning a group of 11 defendants. According to the agency Veten ugrunda, at the trial the state prosecutor Jeyhun Aliyev said that the court fully proved the defendants’ guilt. But despite that, he advocated mitigation of the defendants’ sentences, and in this regard proposed to reclassify the charges from the Article 315.2 (use of violence against the police representative dangerous to health and life) to the Article 315.1 (use of violence against the police representative) and leave unchanged the charges under the Article 220.1 (organization or participation in riots) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic. It should be noted that if the Article 315.2 stipulates punishment from 3 to 7 years of imprisonment, whereas the Article 315.1 stipulates up to 3 years of imprisonment.
Taking this into consideration, the prosecutor proposed to reduce the sentences for Maarif Hajiyev, Ruslan Hasanov, Nizami Akbarov, Togrul Verdiyev and Seymur Aliyev to 5.5 years of imprisonment, Shahlar Rzayev, Tural Bayramov, Kamal Maharramov, Araz Hasanov and Orhan Yagnaliyev to 5 years, Vaqif Ashrafov to 4.5 years of imprisonment.
The court of the first instance sentenced the defendants of that case from 7.5 to 9 years of imprisonment. In turn, their lawyers asked the court to acquit the defendants, arguing that their guilt had not been proved. The court hearing will be continued on August 15.
The Baku Court of Appeal under the chairmanship of the Judge Teyyub Mukhtarov held another trial on the case of the events in Ganja in July 2018, that time it concerned a group of 7 defendants. It should be noted that they were convicted on March 15, 2019, in particular: Yavar Ismayilzade to 9 years of imprisonment, Zabil Mammadov to 8.5 years, Isa Maharramzade to 8 years, Alim Yusifov to 7.5 years, Gambar Qarazade to 7.5 years, Elvin Aliyev and Aydyn Rustamov to 6 years imprisonment. According to the agency Veten ugrunda, the State Prosecutor, Jeyhun Aliyev, took the floor and said that the court had fully proved the guilt of the defendants. At the same time, the State Prosecutor asked the court to reduce the sentences by 2-4 years, and to convict Elvin Aliyev just to 1 year of imprisonment. It means that Elvin Aliyev may be released already at the next hearing on 8 August.
The trial of 42-year-old resident of Baku Rovshan Rahimov and 37-year-old resident of Sumgayit Mehman Qarayev both accused of participation in hostilities in Syria as members of illegal armed group continued in the Baku Court on Serious Crimes chaired by the Judge Faiq Qaniyev.
Right from the beginning, the defendant Rovshan Rahimov made a statement that he declined his lawyer’s services, saying that there was no any useful assistance provided by his lawyer in his case. The judge told him that it was indeed his right, however he concluded that the trial could not be proceeded without the presence of a lawyer. The judge F. Qaniyev also added that due to the seriousness of the crime, the defendant should have a lawyer, so the court informed the Bar Association and the defendant that a state lawyer would be appointed at the state’s expense.
But Rovshan Rahimov reiterated that he had no need of a lawyer, “We are only being brought and taken. Anyway, the court will make a verdict not in our favour, so I will not attend the court next time. Do whatever you have to do and condemn us”.
The judge confirmed that he would suspend the trial until a newly appointed lawyer and urged the defendant to stay calm, “ Not much left to be done, the trial is almost over. Today we will hear the Public Prosecutor, and then the lawyers will give a speech.”
According to the agency Turan, at the next trial in the Baku Appeal Court the state prosecutor Jeyhun Aliyev proposed to mitigate the sentence of another group of 8 people convicted on the “Ganja case” in July 2018. In particular, Jeyhun Aliyev suggested to reclassify the sentences concerning the seven accused people on the Article 220.1 (participation in riots) to the Article 29, 220.1 (attempt in riots participation) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic. However, the state prosecutor proposed to leave the Article concerning accusation of the Sumgayit State University professor, Elman Huseynov, unchanged. Though, the prosecutor asked to reduce the term of imprisonment from 8 to 7 years.
As about the others, the prosecutor proposed to reduce the term by 6 months for those who had been convicted for the terms of 6 years, namely: Sabuhi Rajabov, Riyad Nuruzade, Sabir Azizov, and Fikrat Mirzaliyev. And for the previously convicted to 5-year-term, Jabir Azizov and Gulmirza Nuruzade, the term was reduced to 4.5 years.
However, their lawyers expressed their objections. According to the lawyers, their defendants did not commit any crime at all. They asked acquittal for all previously convicted.
Sabir Azizov’s lawyer asked to take into consideration his defendant’s hard family conditions saying that“Sabir Azizov is called a member of radical religious group. Though during his detention he was under the alcoholic influence. His father is a first group handicapped, his mother is a cleaning lady who earns only 180 manat (approx. 106 USD). Only two sons earned some money, and both of them had been arrested. In a sake of humanity, release at least one son who could support the family”, the lawyer asked.
The defence insisted that the Head of the State was misinformed about the Ganja events. The convicted on that case people were subjected to tortures while they were demanded to confess in organizing riots. The trial will be continued on 23 August when the accused ones have their last words.
The four accused on the “Ganja case”, Qadir Huseynov, Kamal Mammadtagiyev, Mireshgin Seyidov and Rauf Qurbanzade were released in the courtroom after the Baku Appeal Court had mitigated their sentences.
They had been convicted on 22 February 2019, along with 7 other accused in the same case people for the term from 7 to 10 years imprisonment. They were charged according to the Article 220.1 (participation in riots), 315.2 (use of violence against the police representative dangerous to health and life), 228.1 (illegal possession of arms) and the Article 234 (illegal trade of drugs) of Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic. The court of the first instance condemned Qadir Huseynov, Kamal Mammadtagiyev, Mireshgin Seyidov and Rauf Qurbanzade to 7 years imprisonment.
Other defendants, Vugar Allahverdiyev, Raul Suleymanov and Ulvi Hasanov were sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment each, Kamal Quliyev and Ali Rzayev to 8.5 years, Khayal Qafarov and Samir Ibrahimov to 10 years of imprisonment.
And now, at the trial on August 9, the State Prosecutor Jeyhun Aliyev asked to shorten the terms of punishment of the first four of the accused to 2 years of imprisonment, and to the others to reduce the term from 5.5 to 7 years of imprisonment.
As a result, the Ganja Appeal Court, which held the trial at the Baku Appeal Court building, had shorten the sentences to 1 year of imprisonment for Qadir Huseynov, Kamal Mammadtagiyev, Mireshgin Seyidov and Rauf Qurbanzade. At the same time, the term of punishment was counted as one year, which they had already spent in custody during the preliminary and judicial investigation. All four were released in the courtroom,
For the others, the sentence was shortened from 4.5 to 6 years of imprisonment.
According to the Radio Azadliq, in the morning of 15 August at the building of Sabunchi District Court, there was held a hearing on the case of a group of 8 defendants on the events in Ganja in July 2018, under the chairmanship of the Judge of the Ganja Court for Serious Crimes Khagani Samadov, Despite the fact that there were 8 defendants in the documents, only 7 of them appeared on the trial bench, including Oqtay Huseynzade, Eshgin Quliyev, Urfan Mammadov, the Bayramovs father and son, Huseyn and Rauf, Elshan Mammadov and Abbas Abbasov. And the eighth defendant, Rashad Boyukkishiyev, was killed by the police during his detention under unclear circumstances on 13 July 2018.
A conflict had arisen in the process from the very beginning: the State Prosecutor, Fuad Musayev, had filed a motion to end the debate at the trial. The judge Kh. Samadov approved it, which provoked a harsh protest on the side of the lawyers. They stated that there were still many unresolved and unexplained issues, and they were going to raise motions to that effect. The State Prosecutor’s attempts to suppress the lawyers’ arguments provoked strong criticism from the latter. They demanded a second examination, as well as summoning for questioning the expert who had prepared the first expertise, and the doctors who had treated the defendants in the pre-trial detention facility as well as many others. The point was that all the defendants spoke about the torture they had been subjected to. In his report, the expert indicated that there were indeed numerous traces of wounds on the accused bodies, but they occurred at least a year and a half ago, i.e. before their arrests.
At the same time, there was a report of the doctors from the pre-trial detention facility, which stated that all defendants had undergone a medical examination and no wounds or signs of torture had been found on their bodies. In this regard, the lawyers pointed out that even if to assume that the accused received wounds before their arrest, then why the doctors of the pre-trial detention center had not noticed any. And the expert, who gave his assessment much later than the doctors did, observed the traces of torture and wounds. And that contradiction should be investigated, the lawyers said.
However, the judge rejected to consider any of the motions raised by the lawyers. The judge’s refusal to consider the lawyers’ objections provoked strong lawyer’ outrage, as well as the defendants’ and their relatives’ disagreements in the courtroom. During the adjournment of the session it became known that the lawyers had made a written statement about the judge’s harsh conduct, who always defiantly supported the State Prosecutor’s position and put pressure on the lawyers. Having learnt about it, the judge, in his turn, announced that he had called the Bar Association and complained about the lawyers’ behaviour at the trial.
Following this, the State Prosecutor, Fuad Musayev, took the floor and announced that the charges had been fully proven during the trial. He further indicated that two of the defendants, the father Huseyn Bayramov should be sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment, and his son, Rauf, to 4 years of imprisonment.
Then F. Musayev suggested condemning Oqtay Huseynzade to life imprisonment, Urfan Mammadov to 20 years in prison, and Eshgin Quliyev, Abbas Abbasov and Elshan Mammadov from 10 to 19 years of imprisonment.
This State Prosecutor’s speech once again sparked a conflict in the courtroom. The accused and their relatives were screaming and blaming the authorities. One of the defendants’ family member got sick and the ambulance had to be called in.
The relatives of the accused were brought out from the Baku Appeal Court building.
According to the agency Turan, in the second half of 15 August, in the Baku Appeal Court, there was a confrontation between the law enforcement officials and the defendants’ relatives during the verdict announcement, which concerned the case of the next group of defendants on the events in Ganja in July 2018.
Despite the fact that the court reclassified the charges against Maarif Hajiyev, Ruslan Hasanov, Nizami Akbarov, Togrul Verdiyev, Seymur Aliyev, Shahlar Rzayev, Tural Bayramov, Kamal Maharramov, Araz Hasanov and Orhan Yagnaliyev from the Article 315.2 (use of violence against the police officer dangerous to health) to the Article 315.1 (use of violence against the police representative) of the Criminal Code and reduced the sentences to 4-4.5 years of imprisonment (the court of first instance sentenced them to 7-9 years of imprisonment), this verdict caused indignation of the defendants and their relatives who demanded the acquittal.
As a result, there was a spontaneous burst of emotion on the premises of the Court of Appeal. The relatives of the convicts, who had been silent for a long time, finally spoke out everything they had thought of. They did not hesitate to express themselves accusing the judge and the authorities, and seemed not to be afraid of the consequences. Moreover, according to some witnesses, there was a real riot in the courtroom: broken windows and seats, torn blinds and so on.
The convicts did not remain silent either, they nearly broke the glass cage threatening to commit suicide
For the first time in the history of court hearings in Azerbaijan, the Penitentiary Service staff used tear gas to calm down the detainees as well as their relatives. Then the protesters were forced out of the courtroom. The relatives of the convicts continued protesting in the court yard and then in the adjacent streets. They tried to block the traffic and cursed the authorities.
Additional police forces were brought in to calm the protesters. The relatives were pushed out of the courthouse. No one was detained.
Baku Court of Appeal
On 16 August, the Baku Court of Appeal continued the trial of another group of people convicted on 15 March 2019, on the “Ganja case”, who were sentenced from 6 to 9 years in prison on charges of organizing riots and violence against the authorities. The authorities took into account the disturbances in the same courtroom that took place the day before, when the convicts’ relatives smashed the courtroom and kept protesting in the street. Therefore, in the morning of 16 August, the court building was heavily controlled by the police. There were the police officers inside and outside the building. The entrance to the courtroom was carefully monitored, and majority of journalists were not allowed into the courtroom. Most of the prisoners refused to say their last word, protesting against the trial and the charges. The judge postponed the hearing for 22 August.
The Agency Turan reported that the Baku Court of Appeal has completed the trial on the case of another group of people convicted in the «Ganja case”. In March 2019, Yavar Ismayilzade, Zabil Mammadov, Qanbar Qarazade, Elvin Aliyev, Isa Maharramzade, Aydyn Rustamov and Alim Yusifov were sentenced from 6.5 to 9 years of imprisonment on charges of organizing riots and violence against the authorities.
The court of appeal reduced the sentences of those convicted. Elvin Aliyev’s sentence was reduced to his already served imprisonment term, and he was released in the courtroom. As for the rest, the court reduced their sentences to two years of imprisonment.
The Baku Court of Appeal issued a judgment on the case of another group of defendants in the “Ganja case”. The court, having reclassified the charges from the Article 220.1 (organization or participation in riots) to 29.220.1 (attempt to organize riots) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic, mitigated the accused’s punishments. Two convicted men, Riyad Nuruzade and Jabir Novruzov, received a sentence that was reduced from 5 years to 1.5 years of imprisonment, of which 1 year had already been served.
For their brothers Gulmirza Nuruzade and Sabir Azizov, as well as Fikrat Mirzaliyev, Eyruz Hajiyev and Sabuhi Rajabov, the terms of imprisonment were reduced from 6 to 2.5 years.
Accusations against Elman Quliyev, a professor from Sumgayit State University, have remained the same. But the Court of Appeal decreased his term of imprisonment from 8 to 5 years.
At the same time all the accused declared their innocence in the last word and asked to be acquitted. The announcement of the court verdict was made without journalists’ presence in the courtroom.
According to the agency Turan, the Baku Court of Appeal has completed another trial on “Ganja cases”. A series of changes in the sentence continued in August. Neymat Heydarly, another convict on the July 2918 events in Ganja was released in the courtroom on 30 August. Convicted Elman Rustamov, Elvin Allahverdiyev, Elvin Nazarov, Vugar Khudiyev and Renat Mammadov, received the reduced sentences. In particular, the sentences were reduced to 4 years for E. Allahverdiyev, to 3 years for V. Khudiyev, and to 2.5 years for E. Nazarov and R. Mammadov. The charges against Elman Rustamov under the Article 220.1 were left unchanged, but the Article 315.2 was reclassified to the first paragraph of the same Article (use of violence against the police representative) of the Criminal Code, and as a result, the sentence was reduced from 8 to 5 years of imprisonment. As for N. Heydarly, his sentence was reduced to 1 year of imprisonment. But due to the fact that he had already served his sentence, he was released in the courtroom. Immediately after his release N. Heydarly told the journalists that neither he nor other people convicted at the same time together with him were innocent. He wished to all innocent convicts a prompt liberation.