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Angry victim at Rasul Jafarov’s trial
[04.03.2015]
On February 24, discussion of the criminal case against Rasul Jafarov, founder of the Human Rights Club, was renewed in the Baku Court on Grave Crimes. The Azerbaijan human rights defender, which was declared prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, was brought to the court with handcuffs, just like detainees accused of grave crimes. Before the trial started the handcuffs were removed from him, but during the 15-minute break he was taken from the courtroom with handcuffs on his hands.

Monday, 02 March 2015, by HumanRights.ge

The court collegium with Eldar Ismaylov as chairman renewed the discussion of the victims and witnesses. At the previous trials it became evident that the victims in Rasul Jafarov’s case were either unaware of why they were victims or directly stated that they had not got any damage from the accused person. It would have made more sense if they were questioned in the case as witnesses and not as victims.

On February 24, one citizen, which has victim status in the case and whose space was rented by Jafarov’s office, stated that Jafarov paid the whole rent to him. They had even signed a rent agreement, but the victim could not recall how his signature appeared on the document. He said his wife was in charge of similar procedures and she received the rent payments too. The lawyers got interested: if Jafarov had paid the whole rent, how did he then become a victim? The victim replied that he did not experience any material damage at all, but he was three times summoned to the prosecutor’s office for interrogation. Now he has to make testimonies to the court that morally damages him. The lawyers suggested he should apply to the prosecutor’s office with the complaint.

The citizen was speaking in a low voice and the people sitting in the hall heard only fragments from his speech. The audience learned from his statement that there are some misunderstandings in the status of the victim. Rasul Jafarov’s lawyers were trying for a long time to clarify why this citizen was victim in the case, and finally the judge reprimanded the lawyers for asking one question several times.

One more victim, (the fifth one) Nijat Imranli, got anxious during the trial and spoke in an angry tone with the prosecutor. “Could you explain why I am a victim in this case?! Rasul Jafarov has not done me any harm at all! I told the preliminary investigation the same, but you still wrote that I was victimized!” Imranli was speaking so loudly to the prosecutor that the judge rebuked him and requested not to speak angrily and in a loud voice.

Nijat Imranli said he participated in the project Art for Democracy. More precisely he wrote the scenario for the video-roll and sent it to Rasul Jafarov via email. The contract was signed in two copies and afterwards he received reimbursement for the scenario. The “victim” said he has problems with the memory and cannot recall the exact amount of the reimbursement. He confirmed he had signed the contract and said he has definitely received the amount of money that was written in the contract.

After the interrogation of the victims finished, the court started the questioning of the witnesses. On February 24 three witnesses were questioned.

Gunay Ismaylova confirmed the testimony she had made to the preliminary investigation and she said she had worked for Rasul Jafarov’s organization for 6 months as a project assistant. She organized different events, wrote reports and had some contact with the disputed sums when she paid reimbursements to the people hired under the project based on contracts.

According to Gunay Ismaylova, in the beginning of the project, when Rasul Jafarov started speaking about the need of hiring an office, she offered the space where she lived to the organization. “All day long the space was free and the organization could use it as an office. Rasul accepted my proposal and I talked with the wife of the owner. She also accepted the offer and said she would agree with her husband. Then we gave the signed contract to her and the next day the lady gave us it signed by the owner,” the witness said, and added that after the project finished, she, as a physical person, still lived in the space and paid the rent.

Witness Azer Gasimov confirmed his initial testimony to the investigation and said that he had prepared a video-roll for Rasul Jafarov’s organization. For this job he received a honoraria in accordance to the law.

Witness Elnur Mamadli said he is chairman of the nongovernmental organization International Volunteers Cooperation, and has known his colleague Rasul Jafarov for a long time. In 2013 Jafarov asked him to jointly implement a project and offered International Volunteers Cooperation to be a grantee in it. Jafarov had not officially registered the organization, which was a requirement from the donor organization. Elnur Mamadli said he accepted Jafarov’s proposal and actively participated in the project. The grant agreement with the organization was registered at the Ministry of Justice of Georgia. The contract and other significant documents were saved in his organization office, but now they do not have any documents because the prosecutor’s office withdrew them during their search.

Elnur Mamadli said that he had assigned the rent contract to the leaser’s wife with signature and seal and then received the contract back with the signature of the second party. During the following months Gunay Ismaylova was paying the rent to the owner.

On February 24, it was possible to question one more witness, but despite the request of the lawyers, the questioning of Tatiana Kruchkina was postponed till the next trial. Kruchkina had received secondary and high education in Russian language, but she said to the court collegium that Azerbaijan language was almost her mother tongue. Despite that the judge Eldar Ismaylov decided Kruchkina must be questioned with a translator. Since the translator was sick during the trial on February 24, the witness would be questioned at the next trial on March 5.

The Criminal prosecution against the Azerbaijan human rights defender, Rasul Jafarov, has been ongoing since May 2014. Azerbaijan prosecutor’s office arrested him on August 2, 2014 and he is still in pretrial detention. He is accused of illegal entrepreneurship, evasion from the payment of taxes, abuse of professional power, misappropriation of other’s property and fabrication of documents. The charges against him are grave and Rasul Jafarov faces 12 years imprisonment. The international human rights organization Amnesty International declared him a “prisoner of conscience.” They call on the Government of Azerbaijan to stop criminal prosecution against him.

Aleko Tskitishvili

 

                    

 

     

 

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