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Hearing into the Yunus couple case to be renewed at the Baku Appeal Court on October 15
[16.10.2015]
On August 13, 2015 Baku Court on Grave Crimes passed verdict on famous Azerbaijan human rights defender Leyla Yunus and sentenced her to 8 years and 5 months imprisonment; her husband Arif Yunus was sent to prison for 7 years, if nothing will be changed. According to the verdict, their bank accounts were frozen; their property in Azerbaijan, Turkey and Czech Republic will be confiscated. Two years after completion of imprisonment term they will be banned to occupy high positions.
Thursday, 15 October 2015

Leyla Yunus was convicted under Articles 274 (state treason), 178.3.2 (swindle with causing damage in the large size), 192.2.2 (artificial increase of income through illegal business), 213.2.2 (hiding large amount of taxes), 320.1 (fabrication of certificate or other official documents) and 320.2 (use of fake documents) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. Arif Yunus was convicted under Article 178.3.2 (swindle) and Article 274 (state treason) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.

On October 12, Baku Appeal Court started hearing into the Yunus couple case. Representatives of the US and German Embassies in Azerbaijan, Radio Station Voice of America and journalists of the opposition newspaper Azarlik observed the hearing at the court. The Appeal Court building is completely different from the communist style building of the Baku Court on Grave Crimes – it is renovated in modern standards. Court guards first led Arif Yunus into the courtroom. After he was placed in the glass cabin, it took the guard more than one minute to remove shackles from his hands. Arif Yunus immediately put his hand on his neck and did not put it down until the end of the hearing, which lasted 15 minutes. It was evident that he felt bad but neither guards nor the court collegium members paid attention to this fact. I do not know why Arif Yunus felt bad but reportedly he is placed in the building of the National Security, former building of the security committee, where conditions are particularly grave and relevant to psychologically oppress a person.

Soon Leyla Yunus was led into the courtroom. The convicted lady immediately announced that since October 7 she was not allowed to call relatives and her contact with people outside the prison was banned based on medical conclusion on her poor health which was issued by the doctors of the Ministry of Justice Murad Mamedov and Evstikhar Gurbanov.  It is worth to note that like her husband neither Leyla Yunus looked well – it is evident that she is victim of grave psychological oppression.

Defense lawyer Elchin Sadikov requested to have several-minute consultation with his client Leyla Yunus. The translator asked the court chairperson Vigar Mamedov permission to sit close to Ms. Yunus. The judge asked Arif Yunus whether he had any objections against court collegium members but the convicted person said he had nothing against collegium members but noted he felt very bad. Lawyers Elchin Sadikov and Ramzin Mamedov represented the Yunus at the court; the prosecutor was Imranov. The hearing started at 15:00 pm. Feeble Leyla Yunus gathered final energy and addressed to the court and audience notifying that people, who had victim status in her case, had refused to attend the trial. [Her organization’s] board members, who initially had complaints against her, did not attend the trial. She said that testimonies, as well as the court judgment, were false and so called “victim side” no longer existed.

In Azerbaijan trials are conducted in state language but all documents are translated into Russian for the Yunus couple. The Russian translation of the charge sheet was handed to Leyla Yunus in the glass cabin that she protested in her non-sanctioned address. The court chairman Vigar Mamdeov stated that since the convicted person needed time to read the translated document, he had to postpone the hearing. It will be renewed at 15:00 pm on October 15. It is strange that October 12 hearing also started at 15:00 pm and lasted only 15 minutes.   

Giorgi Janelidze

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