Anar Mammadov and Bashir Suleymanli are sentenced to imprisonment (UPDATED)

Baku/23.05.14/Turan : Baku Serious Crimes Court  sentenced the head of the EMDSC to Anar Mammadov to 5.5 years of imprisonment.  The Executive Director of the same NGO, Bashir Suleymanli, received 3.5 years of imprisonment, and was arrested in the courtroom. For the same period of probation period for two years was  sentenced Elnur Mammadov, the head of the Public Association for International Cooperation Volunteers.

They were found guilty of tax evasion, illegal business, abuse of office, embezzlement on a large scale and official forgery. A lawsuit was opened at the end of October 2013.On  December 17Mammedli  was taken into custody, while the other two were under house arrest. The real reason for his arrest is the conclusion of rigged presidential elections in Azerbaijan in October 2013. Amnesty International recognized Mammedli as a "prisoner of conscience." -16D-

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2014 May 26 (Monday) 14:43:57

A lawsuit  against  Anar Mammadov , the head of the  of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDSC), and two other activists Bashir Suleymanli  and Elnur Mammadov  is fabricated and pursue the purposes of punishment of the accused because of their civic engagement. This was the leitmotif of concluding statements of lawyers and  of the accused.

Mammadov 's lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, said that already the lawsuit itself was  filed illegally. According to him, the Investigative Department of the Serious Crimes   if Prosecutor General's Office does not have the right to initiate criminal proceedings relating to tax offenses.

Withdrawal  by the Prosecutor Office the documents of the EMDSC to verify tax records was also illegal. "This form of tax audits  is not provided. Tax audits, under the law, are of  two forms - desktop and on site, and are held by the tax authorities," said Sadigov. At the same time, he said, if tax  officers detect violations, first  they offer to repay the tax debt; if it does not happen, only then a lawsuit can be filed.

On the other hand,  noted Sadigov , claims about the non-payment of VAT are unfounded , as under the law , grants are exempted from this tax.

Grants provided by the Council for State Support to NGOs are not subject to VAT. "The biggest NGOs in the country, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, also does not pay VAT," said Sadigov. Charges under article "illegal business"  is also  unjustified, said  the lawyer.  There cannot be a talk about illegal business, because the accused were not engaged in activities that aim to commercial gain. Election monitoring , enlightenment   of voters  cannot be considered  a business. Sadigov pointed to the failure of the prosecution in the "assignment ."

Of the 20 victims, only one man, Hasan Hasanov, accused of the convicted. But his words were refuted by other victims and witnesses , to which he referred.

As for the charges under Article 308.2 (abuse of power , entailing grave consequences, or committed in order to influence the outcome of elections (referendum) , then, according to Sadigova , they reveal the true cause of the prosecution of activists . However, election monitoring activities can not be considered the influence on the  election results.

Sadigov  called on  to acquit all defendants and to recognize the  violation of  Mammedli’s rights  guaranteed by Articles 5 ( right to liberty) , 10 ( freedom of expression) and 18 ( limits must not be exceeded under the Convention of restrictions on rights ) of the European Convention on Human Rights .

Mammadov 's lawyer,  Javad Javadli, supported Sadigov. Moreover, in his speech  he focused on the unsubstantiated allegations of not paying VAT , which became the basis for launching a lawsuit.

He reminded that according to the legislation of Azerbaijan and the intergovernmental agreement with the United States , grants are exempt from VAT .

Javadli pointed to misinterpretation  of the fact that the grant agreement  mentioned in the lawsuit, is not such, as  it has not been registered with the Justice Ministry.

The grant was not registered through no fault of the accused, since the contract was submitted to the Ministry of Justice, however, from an answer to refuse registration was not received.

Javadli also urged the court to acquit the accused.  Irada Javadova, another lawyer of  Mammedli, agreed with arguments to colleagues, and noted that the trial  questioned 20 victims and 21 witness, and only one victim testified against the accused. She also stressed that despite the grant agreement was not registered it does not cease to be such, because it comes to providing financial assistance to non-profit activities .

Javadova drew attention to the fact that  the experts of the Ministry of Taxes  is not able to disstinguish between commercial and non-profit organizations.

Alibaba Rzayev, the lawyer of  Suleymanli,  expressed  solidarity with colleagues,  and expressed the opinion that the charge under Article 308.2 (" Abuse of power , entailing grave consequences, or committed in order to influence the outcome of elections (referendum) , gives the true purpose of prosecution of the defendants.

He believes that all other charges, in particular, appropriation - are meant to show if grant from the U.S. National Democratic Institute, was "appropriated." "And if the funds have been appropriated, therefore, there was no monitoring of elections, and a critical report on its results is "falsified." The essence of the conviction is that nothing about it is noted in the indictment. However, during the trial it was confirmed that the actual monitoring was conducted," said Rzayev. He also reminded  that the document submitted  by the NDI to the court, which confirmed the realization of the  project on monitoring elections and pointed out the absence of any challenge to the performers.

Then the accused  spoke on behalf of all the defendants. Anar Mammadov congratulated the audience on the occasion of the Republic Day , noting that after the restoration of independence of Azerbaijan much could be done to achieve the values ​​proclaimed 96 years ago by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. However, persecution of people for freedom of expression  and association shows that 22 years of  independence were a time of missed opportunities. He further drew attention to the beginning of the presidency of Azerbaijan on May 14 in the CoE Committee of Ministers .

Just in these days in the Cup final of the Champions League  of the football club "Atletico" entered the field in t-shirts saying "Azerbaijan - Land of Fire" and it has attracted the world's attention to Azerbaijan.

"But I fear that by the end of the presidency in the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan will become known as the "Land of political prisoners," said Mammadov. He further stated that  a lawsuit  was instituted to punish civil activism and independent monitoring of elections.

"It is impossible that the organization conducting monitoring of elections in 2001, would have been a criminal organization, as we are trying to present a consequence," said Mammadov. However, he pointed out that in 2008, the EMDSC registration was canceled, and the Justice Ministry refuses to register  a new organization. Therefore Mammadov had to receive grants as an individual.

At the same time the organization was  transparent, and  in  2008-13 years 480,000 manat grants were received. These funds were exempt from VAT and some other payments. Nevertheless , Mammedli with his salary paid taxes amounting to 12,000 manat.

However, after the change in the law at the beginning of 2013 for realization of  the project of  monitoring presidential elections  EMDSC had to bring as a partner  the Association of International Cooperation of Volunteers (AICV.)

Mammadov pointed out the absurdity of the charges in influencing the outcome of the presidential election, for this article may refer to members of election commissions , state and municipal officials.

Suleymanli and Mamedov also denied the charges, and called on the court to make an acquittal verdict. -

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2014 May 26 (Monday) 13:07:49

The defense spoke today in the Serious Crimes Court in the trial of the head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Training Center (EMDTC), Anar Mammadli and two other activists, Bashir Suleymanli and Elnur Mammadov. The trial takes place under the chairmanship of Judge Rauf Aliyev.

As reported from the court by Turan, the lawyers Irada Cavadova, Javad Javadov and Elchin Sadigov said that their clients are innocent, each of them arrested on the basis of political order. They asked the court to acquit their clients.

In his final comments, Anar Mammadli reiterated that his arrest was politically motivated and was due to the fact that during the last presidential election, he held an independent election monitoring.

Bashir Suleymanli and Elnur Mammadov also stressed that they are innocent. After the speech of the defendants with their final comments, the trial was adjourned. The final verdict will be read at 16.00 today.

The prosecutor offered to accept guilty pleas from all the three defendants, on all the items, and offered sentences of 9 years imprisonment with deprivation of the right to occupy positions in the public, private and social structures within 3 years for Mammadli, Suleymanli to 8.5 years of imprisonment with deprivation of the right to hold office for two years, and Elnur Mammadov to 8.5 years, with disqualification to hold office for two years.

* The head of EMDTC Anar Mammadli, the Executive Director of the NGO Bashir Suleymanli and the head of the Public Association for International Cooperation Volunteers (PAICV) Elnur Mammadov are charged under the Criminal Code 5 - tax evasion, illegal business, abuse of office, embezzlement on a large scale and officials forgery. The criminal case was opened at the end of October 2013. Mammadli was taken into custody on December 17 and two others are under house arrest.

The real reason for his arrest is the conclusion of rigged presidential elections in Azerbaijan in October 2013.

Amnesty International recognized Mammadli as a "prisoner of conscience." -16/06D-

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