South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders

Saytda axtarış
Noise in the court hearing of Intigam Aiyev’s case
Ketevan Gvedashvili, 

The Baku Court on Grave Crimes has been discussing the cases of the arrested human rights defenders for two months already. On March 10, the Court continued discussion into the case of Intigam Aliyev, Azerbaijan human rights defender, who was arrested on August 8, 2014. The main part of the hearing was spent on the discussion of solicitations from the defense side. Interrogation of the witness caused conflict in the courtroom for what the judge postponed the process. 

The trial into Intigam Aliyev’s case started 25 minutes later. Part of the people could not enter the courtroom because of limited space. The hearing started with the solicitations from the defense side. Intigam Aliyev’s lawyers motioned to change the compulsory measure against the human rights defender and handed the address of Azerbaijan human rights defenders to the court. Judge Rasim Sadikhov refused to change the compulsory measure.  

Another solicitation of the lawyers was about the return of the documents withdrawn from the office of the Aliyev’s nongovernmental organization. On August 8, 2014, when Aliyev was arrested, the Prosecutor’s Office searched his office and withdrew big part of documents and several computers from it. Illegality of the search immediately caused public concern: the prosecutor’s office did not categorize and seal up the documents according to the protocol but threw everything in one sack. The officers locked the office door. So, now the defense side cannot use even those documents and computers which were left in the office. 

The lawyers said they cannot properly protect the rights of Aliyev at the trial without those documents. However, there is almost no chance to resolve this problem because the judge demands the defense side to give exact list of the necessary documents. The lawyers say they cannot know names of the important documents unless they have possibility to read them.

This particular solicitation was discussed through loud communication between Intigam Aliyev and Judge Rasim Sadikhov.
According to Aliyev, among the withdrawn documents are judgments of the European Court on Human Rights and applications about political prisoners sent to the European Court.

The accused human rights defender said that the prosecutor’s office sent those documents to his lawyer, which have no connection with the case; so they will not be able to defend him properly.

“Everything proves that it is political decision that aims to imprison me. This fact is proved by the judge’s denial on our solicitations,” Intigam Aliyev told the judge. The statement of the prosecutor, who said he does not know what kind of materials are in the sack, also confirmed the accused person’s allegation. Nevertheless, the prosecutor’s office withdrew those documents to study them.
Since the defense side has no access to the documents, the lawyers motioned to request grant documents from the Ministry of Justice. In accordance to the 2013 amendments to the Azerbaijan legislation, local CSOs had to register all grants received from foreign donors at the Ministry of Justice.

According to the lawyers’ clarification, it is easier to get information from the bank. So, they motioned to the court to request information about bank operations by the organization. 

“Why do you restrict my legal rights?” Aliyev asked.
The prosecutor requested to decline the motion and stated that investigation has right to keep documents for several years. He cannot understand why the accused person does not remember information about bank transactions if he really did them.
The judge agreed with the prosecutor’s opinion and declined the above-mentioned motions.

The court hearing continued with the interrogation of the witness Avsana Orujova. Her statement caused disorder in the courtroom. Orujova is sister of one of the victims in the case. She had started working for Intigam Aliyev’s organization based on her sister’s offer. She was in charge of the administrative issues mostly. Avsana Orujova said she did not know Intigam Aliyev personally and received instructions from her sister. In one occasion Orujova stated that she several times made bank transactions but in another occasion she refused to know anything about bank operations and if the court had any questions about them they should ask it to her sister. The witness said she did not remember anything about bank transactions and registration of tax documents at what the judge and the audience in the courtroom smiled.

The situation got tense several times during the court hearing. Disputes went on between Intigam Aliyev and the judge, between the witness and people sitting in the courtroom.

The situation got particularly tense after Avsana Orujova’s sister requested to dismiss people from the courtroom. She said she felt their aggression. The dispute between the audience and the victim resulted into the conflict between the defense lawyers and the victim’s lawyers. Even the judge’s loud remarks could not calm down the situation. Finally, Rasim Sadikhov had to postpone the trial for March 17. 

Azerbaijan prosecutor’s office arrested 52-year-old Azerbaijan human rights defender Intigam Aliyev on August 8, 2014.

The prosecutor’s office charged all arrested human rights defenders for identical crimes. Intigam Aliyev is accused of abuse of power, misappropriation of other’s property, illegal entrepreneurship and evasion from the payment of taxes.
Intigam Aliyev is chairman of the nongovernmental organization Legal Education Society, founded in 1999. He has been active in the human rights field for 20 years. Intigam Aliyev worked on capacity building of lawyers and journalists, and promoted cooperation between nongovernmental organizations and EU commissioner.

Intigam Aliyev has sent more than 300 applications to the European Court on Human Rights. The Court detected human rights violations in about 30 cases.
Four days after his arrest, on August 14, international organization Amnesty International declared the Azerbaijan human rights defender “prisoner of conscience.” If the charge against him is confirmed, Intigam Aliyev faces imprisonment for 7 years.  



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