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Hearings of Azerbaijan’s prisoners of conscience have started

22 January 2015

The preliminary hearing in the case of Rasul Jafarov, a prominent human rights defender and a prisoner of conscience, was held in Baku on January 15, 2015. Journalists, diplomats and family members attended the hearing. Rasul Jafarov was brought to the Baku Court on Grave Crimes in handcuffs and was kept in a metal cage during the trial. While used in Azerbaijan, the European Court of Human Rights considers that such practice amounts to an inhumane and degrading treatment of the accused.

During the hearing, the lawyers of the accused raised their concerns regarding the difficulties of consulting with their client through bars. They forwarded their petition to the judges asking them to release the accused from the cage, which was denied by the court. Further disadvantages of the accused vis-à-vis prosecutor have been recorded both during the hearing and the investigation period.

Jafarov’s lawyers lodged a petition to include the financial documents to the case file and to consult forensic expertise on these documents and the alleged falsifications. They also asked to lift the victim status of some witnesses, as they testified to have no claims toward R. Jafarov. The court dismissed most of the complaints, the justifications of the court decisions will be provided during the next hearing, which is scheduled for January 27 this year.

The hearing of the Leader of the Legal Education Society, Intigam Aliyev, also a prisoner of conscience, was scheduled for 16 January this year. Aliyev was also brought to court in handcuffs and was kept in a metal cage. However, the victim in the case did not appear to the hearing, which had to be postponed to January 23.

NHC and HFHR will continue to monitor these and other cases of arrested human rights defenders in Azerbaijan. NHC and HFHR will engage European stakeholders to use all available means to advocate for the protection, well-being and release of the detained human rights defenders and activists.

Hearing of Intigam Aliyev

A  preliminary hearing in the case of Intigam Aliyev was held on 23 January 2015 in Baku. Intigam Aliyev is a renowned Azerbaijani lawyer specializing in human rights. In his long career he has represented dozen of applicants before the European Court of Human Rights, and won over twenty cases.

Aliyev was brought into the courtroom handcuffed and was held in a metal cage during the trial. Despite a motion from his lawyer, claiming that the communication with the client was hindered, he was not released from the cage. The accused complained that he had been undressed and searched before being brought to the court. Moreover, he had been transported in an overcrowded car, with insufficient fresh air. Aliyev claimed that he had been subject to intentional humiliating treatment.

During the hearing three out of five victims in Aliyev’s case were present. One of them, former accountant of the accused, testified. The lawyers of Aliyev filed a motion for the proceedings to be terminated. This motion was dismissed by the judges.

The next hearing was scheduled for the 3rd of February 2015.