Azerbaijan
05.02.03
Urgent Interventions

Azerbaijan: developments concerning the trials in Nardaran

Case AZE 060602.7
Follow-up of Case AZE 060602
Arbitrary detention / Torture / Fair trial

Geneva, February 5th, 2003

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan, a member of the OMCT network, of the launching of the trials of several civilians who were involved in the events in Nardaran settlement on June 3rd 2002. During these events armed policemen and civilians clashed, resulting in the death by shooting of one and wounding of several other civilians. OMCT fears that these trials does not meet internationally recognised standards of fair trial and that it will likely result in impunity for the policemen involved in these events and unfair sentences for civilians. Only 5 out of the 15 accused have proper legal representation.

According to the information received, the Nardaran trials began on the 8th of January 2003 and are still under way. The trials’ legitimacy are questionable since only are the policemen involved in the demonstrations are being considered as victims, while the killing of Alihasan Agayev and arbitrary shootings into the crowd by the police are not being considered. It is worth noting that demonstrators were detained following the clashes and some defendants, namely Mirzaga Movlamov, were subjected to torture while in detention.

The charges being held against 69 year-old Mr. Alizade Seyfulla Iskandar oglu and Mr. Yakhshibeyov Hamid Ibrahim oglu were justified in a press release and they were summoned to the trial but did not attend. They are listed as wanted as a result. Hamid Yakhshibeyov's 75 year-old brother, Agaselim Yakhshibeyov, was detained for 3 hours upon bringing his brother food in prison. Until the beginning of the trial, he was not aware of any accusations against him and was never interrogated. As a means of protest against the accusations he did not attend the trial and is consequently also listed as wanted. One defendant, Hafiz Atakishiyev, was separated from the others and tried on December 25, 2002 in top secret conditions without a lawyer or family members present. The charges against him for his alleged participation in the Nardaran events were lifted, but he was instead sentenced to 5 years imprisonment under reportedly false charges of illegal possession of weapons and drugs. On January 29, the Court of Appeal changed a sentence to 3 years imprisonment. Instead of Mr. Atakishiyev, Mr. Ilgar Abdullayev was added to the group of defendants and has been accused of the same crimes.

Another defendant, Mr. Alikram Fazil oglu Allahverdiyev, who has been diagnosed with mental illness, was examined by psychiatrists in November 2002 and the results were only released two months later. The doctors commission reported that his mental illness is not “grave,” as previously diagnosed, but “moderate,” and as such he can be held responsible for his actions in the eyes of the law. It is worth noting that the commission quoted the doctor's act of 1984, stating that the doctors came to the same conclusion, despite the fact that this document reportedly states that he suffers from “grave” mental disability. A Committee of Protection of Rights of Alikram Allahverdiyev was established in January, led by Mr. Ilqar Altay (Mammedov), an independent forensic expert of the Public Commission on investigation of the Nardaran events.

Hadjiaga Nuriyev, one of the leaders of Azerbaijan's Islamic Party was detained in 1996 until 1999 on political accusations, and was arrested again in November 2001 during an attempt to legally leave Azerbaijan to visit Iran. He was accused of resisting the police and attempted bribery. On March 18th, 2002, he was sentenced to a one-year probation and released from detention. In December 2002, during the preparation of the Nardaran trials and the secret trial of Mr. Hafiz Atakishiyev, the Prosecutor General demanded that Mr. Nuriyev be imprisoned. On January 31st, 2003, the Court of Appeal decided to force Mr. Nuriyev to attend a trial despite his lawyer's insistence that he is ill and could not attend. He reportedly contracted Tuberculosis in 1994. Our sources consider the prosecutor's belated decision as being a response to Nuriyev's political activity in Nardaran.

Finally on December 11th, 2002, the pro-government ANS-TV company won a trial against the independent newspaper "Novoye Vremya" – which, in October 2002, published an article critical of the position held by ANS-TV with regard to the Nardaran events. The ANS-TV demanded 200 Mln Manats (40, 000$). They also demanded that the author, Rustam Seyidov, be punished for slander (Art. 147) and insult (Art. 148 of the Crime Code). The preparations for this trial began on January 23th, 2003.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned for the procedural rights of the afore-mentioned defendants who are being tried in relation with the events in Nardaran in May and June 2002, as this trial appears to be politically motivated, and includes violations of their rights to legal representation, false charges being held against them, the trying of persons that are mentally or physically unfit to stand trial, while nothing is being done to bring justice to the persons or families of those civilians that were injured or killed during the afore-mentioned events. OMCT calls on the authorities to ensure that the defendants procedural rights as well as personal integrity are guaranteed at all times, that impartial investigations are launched into these events in order to bring those responsible for the shootings and torture of civilians to justice, and to halt the harassment of the villagers of Nardaran.

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, on May 7th, 2002, a mass demonstration in which an estimated one thousand residents participated, took place in the village of Nardaran, calling for an improvement of the social and economic situation, and for the dismissal of the current representative of the executive power in the village, Mr. Failet Mirzoyev. On May 15th, an investigation into these events began, since this action was considered as a criminal incident under the articles 221.2.2 (hooliganism), 233 (breaking of public order) and 315.1 (violence against the representatives of authorities). On June 3rd, 2002, members of the police and of the Ministry of Internal affairs (MIA) arbitrarily arrested and shot various demonstrators who had participated in the May 7th demonstration, killing one and wounding several others, leading to further resentment on the part of the people of Nardaran.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan urging them to:
i. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances the events in Nardaran, including the shooting and torture of civilians, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
ii. order the immediate release of all civilians being held in relation with these events, in the absence of valid legal charges or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
iii. put an immediate end to the persecution and harassment of the above-mentioned persons;
iv. guarantee adequate reparation to all injured people and Alihasan Agayev’s family;
v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.

Addresses

· H.E. Heydar Aliev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 19 Istiqlaliyyat St., Baku 370066, Azerbaijan, Fax: +994 12 92 06 25, +994 12 92 28 68, e-mail: office@apparat.gov.az , president@gov.az , root@lider.baku.az
· Prosecutor's Office, 7 Nigar Rafibeyli St., Baku, Azerbaijan, Fax: +994 12 926829 / 930020, E-mail: prosec@azeri.com

Please also write to the embassies of Azerbaijan in your respective country.
Geneva, February 5th, 2003
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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