On May 20th, Khatai district court of Baku declined an appeal to commute the sentence of Bayram Mammadov and Qiyas Ibrahimov to house arrest. The two youth activists were arrested after drawing graffiti on a statue of Azerbaijani ex – president, Heydar Alyev.
This information was released by the youth activists’ lawyer, Elcin Sadiqov, on his personal Facebook page. He also added that the court’s rejection of the appeal was unfounded, and that he continues to forward the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
The young men were arrested on May 10th on drug charges. The accused have denied the charges on all counts.
Director of Human Rights Watch, South Caucasus, Giorgi Gogia, commented: “Azerbaijan has a sad practice of using false accusations of drug possession to scare young activists into silence.”
The law system of Azerbaijan punishes the desecration of public monuments protected by a fine or by one – two years imprisonment.
In addition to the drug charges, the youth activists’ claims that the two have been subjected to torture while in police custody, including: beating, clubbing, being thrown to the ground from heights while restrained with handcuffs and taped – legs, forced to clean toilets and other humiliating acts.
They are now facing up to 12 years of imprisonment for drug trafficking if convicted.
Representatives of the ombudsman of Azerbaijan, Elmira Suleymanova, recently released their report compiled after their visit to Mammadov and Ibrahimov in custody, in which they stated that they saw no traces of violence or abuse visible on Bayram or Qiyas.
It should be noted that the office of the current ombudsman has never verified allegations of torture or violence on prisoners.