Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend corr. К.Zarbaliyeva / The Azerbaijani press has released an account of conditions in a Gobustan prison.
A group of journalists inspected the conditions in the Gobustan prison with the assistance of the Public Committee at the Justice Ministry of Azerbaijan. Journalists were allowed to become familiar with the living conditions, food and medical care of the prisoners. Sahib Mammadov, the coordinator of the Public Committee, and Mehman Sadigov, the chief of the Penal Service, also took part in the monitoring.
The director of the prison, Kazim Abdullayev, informed the journalists about how the prison system works. There are inmates imprisoned for life and those who are incarcerated for a temporary sentence. Those sentenced to life-imprisonment are kept in cells for one or two people, separated from the other prisoners. Abdullayev also addressed information published in the press that prisoners are not provided with necessary drugs. He believes the report is due to the presence of drug addicts among the prisoners.
"I prohibited bringing drugs to the prison without doctors' permission. And the prisoners' claim is connected with my prohibition," Abdullayev said. There is also mental illness among the prisoners, which is connected to the conditions in the prison. "We have to keep prisoners in isolation cells which leads to psychological stress. Such prisoners may assault other prisoners and commit serious illegal actions. Prisoners should connect with members of their families more frequently. We should provide conditions for them to speak to their families by phone."
Later journalists visited the library, kitchen and medical centre of the prison. Abdullayev said there were 3,600 books in the prison's library. "We want to expand the library, and public organizations can help us in this effort." Abdullayev also allowed journalists to see the cells of life-sentence prisoners, permitting them to meet with Elchin Amiraslanov, who was sentenced to life due to an emergency platoon event while he was a commander in the Kazakh region. Amiraslanov is kept in isolation cell with another convict, Farruh Karimov. He denied a report that he was underwent harrassment in the prison.
According to prison officials, the prisoners are provided with adequate living conditions. The staff of the prison work for twenty-four hours and are forced to deal with the difficulties of mentally ill patients, and the defiance of prison orders.
The number of prisoners was not announced, but about 200 prisoners have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Approximately 85 prisoners have been kept in the closed Gobustan prison, since the death penalty was replaced by life imprisonment.