The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders

Accusation without evidence
Azerbaijan Court started the substantial hearing of Rasul Jafarov’s case, a famous Azerbaijan human rights defender. On February 10, the accused person and three victims were questioned at the trial in the Baku Court on Grave Crimes. However, many questions remained unclear after the process. It is noteworthy that there were no links between the case materials and victim testimonies. The character of Azerbaijan court hearings is also very significant.

Thursday, 12 February 2015, by Liberali

Rasul Jafarov was questioned in a very unorganized manner. The parties and judge asked questions not according to the order, but according to their own desire. Questions by prosecutor and judge mostly referred to the grant-taking procedures – who and how they gave him grants, how he spent the grants, etc.  
Jafarov clarified that he received NED grant as a physical person.  The Ministry of Justice, due to absence of a relevant law, refused him to register the grant. Consequently, a physical person is neither prohibited nor allowed to use the grant.

As for the five victims in the case, [four of them requested to change status], Rasul Jafarov said he personally knew only three of them.

The victims were questioned after Rasul. When Anar Jabiev was questioned, two assistants of the judge were sleeping. Jabiev stated from the very beginning that he is not a victim but a witness in the case. Jabiev was questioned three times during the investigation – twice as victim and once as witness.

According to his information, he wrote a text for the advertisement roll and Rasul paid the requested sum for the service. However, he cannot provide the payment check. It is noteworthy that Anar Jabiev could not recall the exact amount of the paid reimbursement. During the interrogation, no single evidence was mentioned that could prove Rasul Jafarov’s guiltiness. It is also obscure why Anar Jabiev is being held as a victim status in the case.

The prosecutor said the testimonies of Anar Jabiev given to the investigation and to the court were different. For that reason, the judge got interested in whether the person was oppressed in the prosecutor’s office. Anar Jabiev denied the allegations.

However, second victim in the case, Ahmad Heibatov, said he had met Anar Jabiev in the prosecutor’s office, which said he was oppressed and demanded to declare himself a victim. 
In case of disobedience he was threatened with criminal liability.

Heibatov does not find himself a victim, and claims he had prepared a video-roll for one project and he received 800 manat for that. He signed two agreements during the working process and received only one check. However, he said Rasul paid it all.

Like in previous cases, nor this testimony exposed any signs of Rasul’s guiltiness.

Journalist Seymur Verdizade is one of the victims, whose testimony discloses some violations. She said she was the moderator of one of the documentaries prepared in the frame of the project. She said she does not know Rasul personally and  Azad was negotiating with her. However, Rasul had signed the labor contract that Azad prepared for her. Seymur Verdizade said she received only 150 manat out of promised 200 manat, but she did not claim additional 50 manat and does not say she is a victim because of that.

Seymur Verdizade said she had learned about the status of victim when she saw “victim” written on the interrogation protocol in August 2014.

The next trial of Rasul Jafarov’s case is scheduled at 10:40 am on February 24.

Azerbaijan General Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal case against Azerbaijan human rights defender Rasul Jafarov in May 2014. On July 7, his bank accounts were frozen. On July 25, travel ban was imposed on him. Rasul was summoned to the prosecutor’s office as a witness several times. But on August 2, having arrived at the interrogation, his status was changed and he got arrested. He was sentenced to three-month pre-trial detention.

Rasul Jafarov is accused of illegal entrepreneurship (Article 192 of the Azerbaijan Criminal Code), evasion from the payment of taxes (Article 213), abuse of professional power (Article 308), misappropriation of other’s property (Article 179.3.2), and fabrication of documents (Article 313). The prosecutor claims Rasul Jafarov damaged the state budget with 6 162 manat because of unpaid taxes.

Rasul Jafarov founded Human Rights Club on December 10, 2010. He was the organizer of the campaigns “Sing for Democracy” and “Art for Democracy.”

If the accusations against Rasul Jafarov are being proved, he faces 12-year-imprisonment. The international human rights organization Amnesty International declared him a “prisoner of conscience.” 

Ketevan Ghvedashvili

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