NIDA reveals falsification of investigation

At the trial in the case of the accused activists of the NIDA Movement, the judge was informed that after the previous trial on Tuesday, peppered gas was put to the car with activists.

Defendant Zaur Gurbanly told that it happened right at the entrance to the Kurdakhani jail.  The car stopped for no unknown reason, and the ventilation system in the car was turned off. The health of Ilkin Rustmzade, who suffers from heart disease and asthma and of Zaur Gurbanly worsened. The young people asked to open the door, however, a senior warder cursed them in return. The prisoners began to knock, and then the officer chucked the gas inside.

As a result, Gurbanly lost consciousness and Novruzlu Shahin said today that he is still is sick and has fever.

The Prison Service claims that it is investigating the incident, and at the same time declared that prisoners "tried to escape" from the car.

The lawyer Asabali Mustafayev asked the court to take a decision on investigation the incident in Sabunchu Prosecutor Office, because the incident can be called a torture. However, the judge considered the petition unfounded.

The defendant Uzeyir Mammadov gave testimony. He said that the NIDA Movement was established in February 2011 to promote democratization in Azerbaijan and is not intended to come to power.

The Movement is engaged in promoting enlightenment among students, helping to protect the rights of citizens, and has tried to draw attention to the problems of corruption in education.

Mammadov said that NIDA has never had projects amounting large sums, and did not receive any grants from the internal or external donors.

Concerning the confiscation of 94,000 manat from the flat of the accused Shahin Novruzlu, allegedly intended for the unrest, Mammadov said that the investigation did not provide evidence of the origin of these funds.

Mammadov noted that the investigation checked the activities of the U.S. National Democratic Institute, and also failed to establish that the organization passed Finance to NIDA.

Mammadov also denied that on February 28, 2013, the defendants gathered in the cafe "Venice" to plan riots during the rally on March 10.

Mammadov said that all the charges against him are based only on the testimony of Mamed Azizov, who was tortured in the first days after his arrest, and some from Anar Abbasov.

"In facebook was discussed the question on making protest actions against the death of a soldier Allahverdiev. But we decided to better organize a coordinated campaign to bring attention to this problem. The city authorities have not responded to our notice. We took part in the protest on March 10, which had already been announced through facebook, but there were no disturbances. A total 198 people were arrested, and no one was brought to justice.

Mammadov noted that NIDA partially achieved some goals - after the election the Defense Minister was dismissed, increased attention was brought to the problems of soldiers, and now killed soldiers are buried with honors and are awarded medals.  Mammadov said in conclusion that he denies all the charges and that they are politically motivated.

The Zaur Gurbanly gave testimonies and asked to release the accused from the iron cage. The judge allowed, but Gurbanly was handcuffed. Gurbanly said that from the accusation it is not clear what crime had been committed. He said there is not any even fabricated accusation against him, Uzeyir Mammedli and Rashadat Akhundov.

"I do not have to prove his innocence. But this happens in an independent court. So I had to testify and show inconsistency of charges," said Gurbanly.

At the same time, he pointed to unsubstantiated allegations that the defendants are an "organized criminal group". From the materials of the case it is not clear who exactly this is "organized group", and who they are.

The sign of an organized criminal group is stable activity over certain time, a clear division of responsibilities, etc. None of these features is present. The eight defendants have never assembled together.

Gurbanly also pointed out that first investigation initially blamed the young people with illegal possession of explosives. When the defense pointed out that "Molotov cocktails" are not explosive, these bottles suddenly became "overgrown with accessories."

Gurbanly restored the chronicle of his actions on February 28, 2013, in order to prove that he was not in the cafe "Venice." If there was not a meeting in “Venice”, then there is no evidence of a crime, said Gurbanly, and asked the court to acquit all defendants.

The lawyers regarded the questioning Gurbanli before the court in handcuffs as a flagrant violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Further, the lawyer Khalid Bagirov presented the court with some evidence of innocence of the defendants, which was based on official information and communication media.

In particular, the death of the soldier Seymour Allahverdiyev occurred on February 28 at 15:30.

This means that on February 28 at 15:00, the accused could not discuss a protest against his death.

In the media the death of the soldier appeared only in the morning of March 1. After this, the topic was actively discussed in social networks, and the action of protest was appointed for March 10. The first information about the campaign appeared in the media on March 1 at 15:00.

Bagirov also presented a list of people who can confirm that Mammadov and Gurbanly were not in the cafe "Venice" on February 28.

"I took the testimony of these individuals, but they have to prove their need to question the court" - Bagirov said.

Judge Huseynov left the petition unconsidered and scheduled the next hearing for April 4. -06C—

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