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Azerbaijani human rights defender sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison

The Regional Court in Baku has sentenced Intigam Aliyev to seven-and-a-half years in prison. The Court found the lawyer guilty of tax evasion, abuse of power, using his position for personal gains and an illegal business activity.

For years, Intigam Aliyev has been representing applicants before the European Court of Human Rights, as part of Legal Education Society’s activities. He has won over 50 cases in the ECtHR. Mr Aliyev has also trained young lawyers and activists on the human rights protection standards. He has received the Homo Homini Award bestowed by the Czech organisation People in Need.

“The trial of Intigam Aliyev and that of Rasul Jafarov, who a week ago was also found guilty, raises many reservations as far as their fairness and compliance with safeguards contained in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights are concerned”, says Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, an HFHR lawyer.

The monitoring carried out by international non-governmental organisations, including the HFHR, showed that already at the initial stage of the proceedings the prosecutor’s office obstructed the access of Mr Aliyev’s lawyers to case files. Only after the lodging of an indictment act, the lawyers were allowed to read case files. Before court hearings notes of Mr Aliyev were looked through and censored. Moreover, documents brought by his lawyers were reviewed before hearings. The court systematically dismissed evidentiary motions of defence counsel, including the motion to hear an expert graphologist, which seems to be crucial for a charge of forging documents. The court prevented Mr Aliyev’s counsel from asking questions to the main witness, an accountant employed at Mr Aliyev’s organisation. For instance, the court would adjourn the hearing for a day just when defence counsel was in the middle of asking questions to the witness on account of the witness being tired. It also happened that the judge explained to the public and a court reporter what witnesses had said.

“During the proceedings Intigam Aliyev has many times complained about inhuman and degrading treatment he was subjected to. At the very start of the trial he was put in a metal cage, which goes against the standards applied by the European Court of Human Rights”, adds Ms Bychawska-Siniarska.

In courtroom, Mr Aliyev was sitting in a metal cage. He was transported to the hearings in a crowded bus. He was handcuffed during transport and when entering the courtroom. Mr Aliyev believes that the authorities did this on purpose to humiliate him and show to the public that he is a dangerous criminal.

He has already launched a case before the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that he had been illegally detained on political grounds and that the documents he had kept in his law office had been illegally seized.

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