Four Trials for Media in Azerbaijan Last Month

Azerbaijan, Baku, 10 June / Trend corr E. Babayev/ Last month court trials involved four media bodies in Azerbaijan (Azadlig, Khural and Mukhalifat newspapers, Azadlig radio (Liberty). "Two cases regarding journalists were considered at the European Court for Human Rights, one at the Azerbaijan Supreme Court, two at the Baku Appeal Court, one at the Yasamal District Court in Baku and one at the Nasimi District Court," according to the divulged results of the monitoring of freedom of speech and press in Azerbaijan held by the RUH Azerbaijan Committee for Protection of Journalists in May.

Last month, five journalists appeared in courts as plaintiffs. Four lawsuits were verdict appeals. In one case lawsuit was initiated by media representative. One lawsuit was filed against media (Azadlig newspaper).

Azadlig name was used at court most often. Chief editor of Azadlig Ganimat Zahid was involved into two court procedures. Yasamal District Court announced Zahid guilty for contravening Article 127.2.3 (deliberate minor injuring) and 221.1 (hooliganism) and was imprisoned for4 years.

On 7 May, Supreme Court considered the appeal for the verdict made by the Baku Appeal Court on the lawsuit of the Defence Ministry against Azadlig newspaper. The appeal was rejected. On 16 May, one more Azadlig newspaper's employee Agil Khalil applied to court against the Hard Crimes Investigation Department of the General Prosecutor's Office and State Border Service because he had not been allowed to leave the country. Khalil demanded compensation from the Nasimi District Court for moral damage and urged to be allowed to leave the country at any time.

One of the plaintiffs against Azadlig daily is Union of Activists of Freedom Movement. The suit filed on 23 May in Yasamal District Court indicated the establishment and activities of Azadlig paper. It also said the new management of the paper has changed the paper's focus which once used to belong to the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA).

The fact that this paper functions not as a mouthpiece of Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan but that of its staff, evokes anxiety. The position of the paper has undergone serious changes as well after the death of Abulfaz Elchibay. The Union believes that it is illegal to hand over of the founding rights to its staff by taking it away from the Popular Front Party. The suit demands to close down the paper with this staff and management, apologizing for the moral damage inflicted by the founder of the paper and PFPA and fine worth AZN 150,000 - for moral damage to the public.

It is worth mentioning that the legal proceedings with regard to journalists were taken even to the European Court last year. One of these facts concerns Radio Azadlig. On 8 May, the lawyers of the Ilgar Nasibov, the reporter of the Nakhchivan Bureau appealed the European Court for Human Rights against the verdict brought in by the court instances of Azerbaijan against the reporter on the basis of suit filed by Sabuhi Novruzov, head of the Police Department of the Nakhchivan city. Nasibov is not under arrest; however he believes that the three-month jail is illegal.

The last verdict of the Azerbaijani courts can be cancelled only after Novruzov takes back his suit.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]

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