Azerbaijan, Baku / Тrend corr K. Zarbaliyeva / The hunger-strike held by the convicts of the Azerbaijani Gobustan Closed Prison has been officially confirmed. The department head of the Penitentiary Service of Azerbaijani Justice Ministry, Rafig Ramazanov, reported to Trend that thirty-eight convicts went on a hunger-strike on 20 June. They are being kept under medical surveillance.
Ramazanov reported that convicts sentenced to life imprisonment after 2000 are among the hunger-strikers. Those convicts, along with prisoners whose death sentences were replaced by life imprisonment, demand that their sentences be reduced to fifteen years.
Over eighty people, whose death sentences were replaced by life imprisonment, serve their sentence at Gobustan Prison.
The decision of the European Court on Human Rights replied to the appeal of Alikram Humbatov by saying that replacing a death sentence with life imprisonment corresponds to the European Convention. The European Court stresses several issues regarding the situation. The Court indicates that life imprisonment cannot be considered as a serious punishment.
The families of the life prisoners are concerned about current living situations in the prison. According to the relatives, the convicts went on a hunger-strike on 18 June. The relatives will appeal to the Administration of Azerbaijani President and the Ministry of Justice to reconsider the cases of convicts so that their life sentences may be substituted with fifteen years imprisonment.
Similar demands were made during the hunger-strike of 16-20 April 2007. Several days ago, a life convict of Gobustan Prison, Rashad Jafarov, cut off the head of his cellmate, Famil Mirzayev. A criminal case was filed at the Garadagh Region Prosecutor's Office in compliance with Article 120.1 of the Criminal Code (premeditated murder). The investigation is in progress.