Azerbaijan
11.06.03
Urgent Interventions

Azerbaijan: reduced sentences and release of Nardaran detainees

Case AZE 060602.11
Follow-up of Case AZE 060602
Release / Reduced sentence

Geneva, June 11th, 2003

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information regarding 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 reduced sentence and release of individuals in connection with events in Nardaran, which has been the scene of repression of demonstrations, including a killing, and numerous arrests and detentions since June 3rd, 2002.

According to the information received, the Court of Appeal has changed the sentences of three individuals imprisoned in connection with the demonstration in Nardaran, Azerbaijan, on February 5, 2003. Veliyev Hikmet Mirzababa oglu and Zakiyev Etibar Zaki oglu were both sentenced to five-year prison terms. The Court has reduced their sentences to three-year suspended sentences and released both persons. Aliyev Alikram Ismayil oglu was sentenced to a nine-year prison term which has been reduced to six years. Alizade Djebrayil’s 8-year imprisonment sentence remains the same.

The International Secretariat of OMCT welcomes the Court of Appeal's decision to reduce the sentences of the afore-mentioned individuals. OMCT wishes to thank the individuals and institutions that intervened on behalf of these detainees. However, OMCT remains preoccupied by the situation of the remaining detainees, and calls on the Azerbaijan authorities to order their immediate release. The persons still being detained include:

Aliyev Alikram Ismayil oglu, 6 years
Alizade Djebrayil, 8 years
Atakishiyev Hafiz Hasan oglu (sentenced separately), 5 years

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, on June 3rd, 2002, the Azerbaijani police arbitrarily arrested and shot various demonstrators in Nardaran, killing one and wounding several others. These events occurred against a background of ongoing civil unrest in Nardaran since, on June 3rd, 2002, members of the police and the Ministry of Internal affairs (MIA) arbitrarily arrested and shot various demonstrators who had participated in a demonstration on the May 7th, killing one and wounding several others. The trials of 15 persons that were arrested at that time have led to further demonstrating in Nardaran (see previous appeals for more information concerning these situations). Many persons have engaged in demonstrations in Nardaran’s central square. Subsequently, on February 5th, 2003, at 4:15 in the morning, five busloads of police officers staged an operation in Nardaran in order to arrest persons responsible for organizing or participating in demonstrations against the authorities.

The authorities were reportedly aiming to arrest Mr.Yakhshibeyov Hamid Ibrahim oglu who was on a wanted list for not voluntarily turning himself in to be tried as part of the afore-mentioned trials. Claiming that they had found weapons on some of the demonstrators, the police then reportedly opened fire on them, resulting in injuries to 17 people, including the afore-mentioned Alimmamed Azimov and Rahibzade Kazym Safiqulu oglu.

Although the formal reason of the operation was to arrest Mr. Hamid Yakhshibeyov, eight people were also arrested and were either being administratively detained having been charged with resisting the police or detained on criminal charges of possession of weapons (the police claimed to have seized 2 pistols and 7 hand grenades during the operation). The trial of the persons arrested in relation with the initial events on June 3rd, 2002, has reportedly been marred by procedural irregularities and finished on April 01, 2003 with imprisonment sentences for 15 defendants. Later, as a result of active mediation by the Moslem clergy, the majority of detainees received suspended sentences and were released.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan:

i. welcoming the reduced sentences and releases of the afore-mentioned persons;

and urging them to:

ii. order the immediate release of the other detainees 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. guarantee an immediate investigation into the circumstances of these events, in order to identify those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;
iv. guarantee adequate reparation to all detained and injured persons;
v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and 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 92 06 82, +994 12 92 26 63 E-mail: prosec@azeri.com

Please also write to the embassies of Azerbaijan in your respective country.

Geneva, June 11th, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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