"The case of the Iranian network may reveal facts that shed light on the murder of Rafik Taghi"

Ilgar Taghi, the brother of the writer-publicist Rafik Taghi, told the media that he would contact law enforcement agencies for a new investigation into the writer's murder: "We want a new criminal case, but we oppose the previous investigation team," Ilgar Taghi told “Meydan TV.”

He said that after the assassination attempt on Deputy Fazil Mustafa, Deputy Ziyafat Askerov said in the Milli Majlis that the Iranian secret services were behind the murder of Rafik Taghi: "After that, we also decided to raise this issue again. But we consider it important to create a new investigative team and investigate the murder."

Is it possible to initiate a new criminal case in connection with the murder of the writer-publicist Rafik Taghi?

Lawyer Rashid Hajili answers questions from ASTNA on this topic.

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Question: After Deputy Ziyafat Askerov stated in the Milli Majlis that the Iranian special services were behind the murder of Rafik Taghi, the brother of the late writer Ilgar Taghi said he would contact law enforcement agencies to re-investigate the murder. Will this appeal have any results? What does the statement of the deputy of the Milli Majlis indicate that the Iranian secret services are behind this murder? If any deputy speaks about it, it means that he has some information. In that case, why wasn't this crime solved?

Answer: The stabbing incident, which resulted in the death of writer Rafik Taghi, is one of the most high-profile and impressive murders in our recent history. The stabbing incident that killed writer Rafik Taghi is one of the most high-profile and stunning murders in our recent history.

At first, the writer was persecuted for the article "Europe and Us" published in the newspaper "Art". In November 2007, after a complaint by a group of Shiite believers and threats to lynch Rafik Taghi, the Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case and arrested the writer, and with him the leading writer of the newspaper Senet ("Art") Samira Sadagatoglu. And even unofficially argued that the alleged decision to arrest was made in order to protect the writer from lynching.

Do you remember who attacked Rafik Taghi at that time, demonstrating anger, insulting, and threatening him? For example, Rafik Taghi spoke unflatteringly about the Prophet, causing outrage among believers, but believers in Azerbaijan are not only Shiites. After all, the prophet of Islam is the prophet not only of Shiites, but also of half of all Sunni believers. Perhaps the Sunnis might not like the article either. But they were not heard. It was as if they had written only about the prophet of the Shiites. Why is a group of Shiites so angry? Most of them were from the village of Nardaran or other Shiite believers, more susceptible to impulses emanating from Iran.

There is no doubt that these shares were managed from Iran. Through his people in Baku. The discovery that Iran was directly behind all this hype did not take long to wait. The Iranian ayatollahs have also joined this campaign of vilification and intimidation. There were also those who issued fatwas calling for murder. It is obvious that the leaders of the Islamic State of Iran have extracted the maximum benefit from these events in order to further strengthen political Islam in Baku and activate their supporters.

The writer had to cohabit for a long time with these fatwas calling for murder. Until he was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant while walking home alone in a dark alley.

The officials (the Prosecutor General's Office, the courts), who, without batting an eye, threw the writer into prison for the article "Europe and Us", and then sentenced him to a long prison sentence, investigated his murder carelessly, procrastinating, so that it was obvious that they did not bother to take the necessary steps.

Question: Can a criminal case be initiated to re-investigate this murder?

Answer: In both cases, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights confirmed that the authorized officials - the Prosecutor General's Office, the courts, along with the laws of Azerbaijan, violated the relevant articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. On both cases.

The European Court of Human Rights, in its decision in the Taghi and Huseynov case of December 5, 2019, ruled that Article 10 of the Convention (freedom of expression) was violated, considering the imprisonment of Rafik Taghi and Samir Huseynov for the article unbalanced and unnecessary for a democratic society.

On July 7, 2022, the European Court in the Taghi case (on the complaint filed in connection with the ineffective investigation of the case of the murder of Rafik Taghi) ruled that the relevant officials investigating the case of the murder of Rafik Taghi, by committing procedural violations, violated the rights granted by the Convention to the applicant.

The decisions of the European Court in both cases provide sufficient grounds for reviewing the cases related to Rafik Taghi in Azerbaijani courts. In the first case (the conviction of Rafik Taghi under Article 282 of the Criminal Code), the Plenum of the Supreme Court must decide on the cancellation of criminal sentences, on the acquittal of Rafik Taghi and Samir Huseynov.

In the second case, the decision to terminate the investigation of the circumstances of the death should be canceled, and the investigation of the criminal case continued. Moreover, as you said, Deputy Ziyafat Askerov said in the Milli Majlis that there is an Iranian trace in the murder of Rafik Taghi. This is a serious statement. This in itself requires the continuation of the criminal investigation.

Question: How convincing is it that Iran's special services are behind this crime?

Answer: The murder of Rafik Taghi is a political murder. This is terror against freedom of expression. In addition, this event is closely connected with the activities of spreading pro-Shiite political Islam (Iranian influence). There are so many facts pointing to the connection of the murder with Iran that they overshadow other versions. The statement of a member of the Milli Majlis gives reason to believe that new facts have emerged confirming this version.

It is difficult to say whether the secret services of Iran were involved. Iran is a somewhat confusing country. There, some ayatollah may give a fatwa for someone's death in another country, instructing members of his religious community to implement it.

What we can call a special service in Iran is not a structure at all. In addition to the Ayatollahs, there is the SEPAH (IRGC – the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps), there is intelligence, there are other structures. Azerbaijan is a country in the center of special attention for Iran. For many years, Ayatollah Ojaknejad conducted extensive activities in Baku as a special representative of the religious leader of Iran, Aghai Khamenei.

Question: Why were not the authorities interested in solving this crime at the time?

Answer: It is not necessary to assert that the person who stabbed Rafik Taghi was a person who had undergone special training. Therefore, we can say that the perpetrator of the crime was an ordinary person, that is, an ordinary believer.

However, the handwriting of the Iranian secret services, traced in some events, gives reason to suspect them of involvement in the crime against Rafik Taghi. For example, a crime was solved in Georgia, which is reportedly connected with the Iranian secret services. An attempt on a businessman of Jewish origin. Iranian intelligence agencies recruited a Pakistani, who, according to the report, was not a professional killer. The murder should have been committed with a knife. At the last moment, the performer refused to kill with a knife and demanded a gun. The plot was uncovered during the search for the gun.

Obviously, the use of the simplest methods and non–professionals is the style of the Iranian secret services. By the way, an unprofessional person with some training was used in the attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran.

For the Azerbaijani government, political issues are much more important than issues such as the rule of law, the restoration of the rights of victims of crimes. For example, before the 44-day war, in order not to offend Iran, a policy was conducted in relations with it, which can be described as "don't interfere too much, let him do what he wants." And during the war, even curtsies were made to Iran. As long as it does not interfere. Because Iran had very long arms. Then the situation changed. Iran began to openly speak out against Azerbaijan at the official level and this time received a tough response. In previous years, Azerbaijan could not afford such a luxury.

It is possible that these factors influenced the steps taken in the case of Rafik Taghi. In any case, in the investigation of the murder of that period, there is clearly a slowness, a lack of "enthusiasm". It was the murder of Rafik Taghi, as well as the illegal arrest that occurred before, that led to a significant strengthening of Iran's soft power and its agents of influence. This showed what fate can be expected of those who criticize Iran, those who oppose the Iranian ideology, those who look askance at Iran. Iran has inspired its soft forces.

Serious work against the Iranian network can reveal facts that shed light on the case of Rafik Taghi. Naturally, a lot depends on the goals set for the authorities and their officials involved in the detection of crimes. As mentioned above, this is also the task of the Prosecutor General's Office and the bodies involved in criminal investigation. Including the obligation that arose as a result of the execution of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

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