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12 defendants in the Nardaran case make their final statements in court

"I was on a pilgrimage to Karbala when the events occurred,” said defendant Elkhan Hasanov in his statement. “They arrested me because I was mourning Imam Hussain.”

On 23 October, Zulfugar Mikayilov, Elman Aghayev, and 10 other defendants made their final statements in a criminal trial related to the 2015 events in Nardaran. The public prosecutor has requested sentences from 14 to 18 years for the defendants, who are charged with terrorism, attempting to overthrow the government, and illegal possession of weapons.

On 26 November 2015, police carried out a raid in Nardaran, a settlement near Baku, during which four members of the Muslim Unity Movement and two police officers were killed. Dozens of people have been tried in connection with the incident, including the leader of the Muslim Unity Movement, Taleh Baghirzadeh, and his deputy, Abbas Huseynov, who were both sentenced to 20 years in an earlier trial.

The current trial of 12 defendants will continue on 30 October.

In his final statement, Lankaran resident Elkhan Hasanov told of his past as the personal bodyguard of Azerbaijani MP Hadi Rajabli, and of his career as an athletic coach whose students won awards at international competitions. He denied all charges.

"No investigative activities were conducted during the investigation period,” said Hasanov. “They planted [a grenade] and they removed it themselves. I was on a pilgrimage to Karbala when the events occurred. They arrested me because I was mourning Imam Hussain. Which of the charges filed against us has been proven? … The entire investigation was conducted illegally and those who carried it out should be sitting here instead of us.”

The public prosecutor requested that Zulfugar Mikayilov be imprisoned for 18 years, Faig Allahverdiyev for 15 years, Ali Huseynov for 14 years, Mehman Guliyev for 15 years, Mehman Mammadov for 14 years, Eldar Bunyatov for 14 years, Elman Aghayev for 15 years, Elkhan Hasanov for 14 years, Ramil Seyfullayev for 15 years, Mubariz Ibrahimov for 15 years, and Ruzi Ismayilov and Jabir Aliyev for 16 years each.

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