Azerbaijani activist Elbay Karimli sentenced to six years following controversial narcotics trial

Illustration: Meydan TV

Elbay Karimli, a youth activist affiliated with the Azerbaijan People’s Front Party (PFAP), concluded his trial after spending 8 months in custody. The Baku Heavy Crimes Court’s ruling resulted in a 6-year imprisonment for the young activist.

Under the presidency of Judge Elnur Nuriyev, Karimli was primarily convicted under Article 234.4.3 of the Criminal Code, about the possession and distribution of a significant quantity of narcotics.

Karimli, however, denies the accusations, claiming he was framed and arrested. Allegedly, narcotics were planted on him at the 22nd police department in Nasimi district following an incident where the inscription “Stalin” appeared behind the statue of Heydar Aliyev, the former president’s father and ex-president of Azerbaijan, in a park opposite the Republic Palace.

During the trial, Karimli asserted that women cleaning around the statue witnessed the incident and alerted the police, leading to his immediate arrest. He further claimed that he was coerced into admitting guilt under duress, citing threats of further incrimination and intimidation tactics by law enforcement officials.

Karimli’s case evokes parallels with past incidents involving activists. Notably, in 2016, Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov were arrested for inscribing “Happy Slave Day!” on the same statute, resulting in their imprisonment for 10 years each, later commuted to parole after nearly three years.

The PFAP reported that along with Karimli, two other party members—Elnur Hesenov and Sahib Mammadzade—have been imprisoned on narcotics charges in the past year. The party condemned these incarcerations as politically motivated, alleging the unjust targeting of individuals critical of the government.

Ali Karimli, the PFAP’s President, criticized the severity of punishment meted out to individuals involved in such incidents, highlighting both the oppressive nature of the political regime and the questionable judgment of the country’s leadership.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs maintains that individuals implicated in narcotics-related offenses, including public and political activists, have been prosecuted based on concrete evidence.

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