Criminal Case Against Avaz Zeynalli Collapses

The trial of Avaz Zeynalli, editor of "Khural" newspaper, has lasted eight months, and despite 35 trials, the end of the proceedings is not in sight. The reasons for this is that the authorities are at a loss, because their accusation topples does  like a house of cards, said Mehman Aliyev, the Director of Turan news agency at a press conference in the media center IRFS.

Guler Ahmedova, the prime witness against Zeynalli made statements, because of which he was arrested. She is now accused of fraud. The person who ordered his arrest, Ramiz Mehdiyev, the head of the presidential administration, is involved in a scandal caught on video regarding the sale of seats. Authorities delay passing sentences, and there is no evidence of Zeynalli’s guilt, therefore a conviction will be illegal and politically motivated.

According to Rashid Hajili, a lawyer and the director of the Institute for Media Rights (IPM), even experienced Prison Service employees are surprised with such a long delay of trial, because trials in cases of organized crime are usually conducted much more quickly. According to him, another reason is the increased attention from international organizations. The authorities are trying to prevent recognition of Zeynalli as a political prisoner, although he is a political prisoner, according to the criteria adopted by the PACE autumn session.

Another gross violation of the trial is the failure of the prosecution’s main witness to appear in court. Only once in summer Gular Ahmedova suddenly appeared in court one time during the past summer, and after the scandal was disclosed, she left without answering questions. Court is not in a position to demand her participation under the pretext of illness, although all this time she is giving interviews, and continues to teach at University, etc.

In addition, Zeynalli was convicted for "receiving bribes" in another situation, that occurred in 2006-2007, but no evidence was presented. Defense believes that the recent statement of Akhmedova, that Zeynalli was arrested not on her complaint, and she has no claim against him. This testimony opens the new circumstances and is contrary to her previous testimonies. Therefore, the court simply must clarify the situation, and find the truth.

Human rights activist Oktay Gyulalyev calls on the media to actively protect Zeynalli.

IRFS Director Emin Huseynov suggested that Zeynalli write articles from prison, which must be printed in the media, calling attention to his case.—06D-  

 

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