Court Refuses Appeal of Social Activist, who Claims he is in Jail for Accusing President Aliyev on Facebook

Illustration: Meydan TV

The request to question the policemen and review the camera footage was denied by the judge during the recent proceedings at the Baku Appellate Court regarding the appeal against social activist Amrah Tahmazov’s one-month prison sentence.

The courtroom on June 10 was only accessible to Tahmazov’s lawyer and the historian scientist Altay Goyushov. Lawyer Zibeyda Sadygova expressed her discontent with the exclusion of people from the public trial, but her objections yielded no change in the outcome.

In response to the protest against the restricted access to the court proceedings, the judge presiding over the case stated, “I cannot intervene in the issue of who is allowed into the court building…”

During the court session, the lawyer submitted two motions. The first motion requested the summoning and questioning of the two policemen who had provided statements against Amrah Tahmazov. The second motion aimed to obtain and review the camera footage from the location of his arrest.

The 30-day arrest warrant against the social activist alleges that on May 29, he engaged in profanity while walking along Rasul Reza Street in the capital. As a result, the police detained him and took him to their unit, where a protocol was drafted, charging him under articles 510 (petty mischief) and 535.1 (disobedience to the legal request of the police) of the Code of Administrative Offenses. He was subsequently brought to court, which issued a 30-day administrative detention order.

Tahmazov disputes the claims, asserting that he was apprehended on May 27 on the streets. According to him, the allegation of cursing in the street is false. He recounts being approached by four policemen who asked him if he wanted to hold a demonstration.

Tahmazov denies any involvement in such an activity, stating that his phone was confiscated before being taken to the Baku City Police Department. He remained in their custody for two days until May 29, when he was brought to court and received the 30-day detention order.

Despite the lawyer’s petitions, the judge denied all requests, arguing that the police’s explanation was already on record and deemed the acquisition of the camera footage unnecessary.

During the court proceedings, the defense drew attention to the fact that Amrah Tahmazov had been detained at the police station from May 27 to 29 without being permitted to contact his family members for over a week. The lawyer emphasized Tahmazov’s innocence and urged the court to overturn the decision against him.

Amrah Tahmazov himself asserted that he was being punished for his social media posts. He believed his criticism of President Ilham Aliyev, particularly regarding Alizamin Salayev, who has been on a hunger strike for three and a half months while in prison, had triggered the authorities.

A few days before his arrest, Tahmazov had written on his Facebook account about the police coming to his house in search of him, stating, “Two policemen came and asked for me at the house. The people in the house said that I was in the city and had left. Most likely, it is because of the status I wrote for Mr. Elzamin that day with an emphasis on Aliyev. I don’t like to exaggerate, but if they do, it’s probably because of my status…”.

Judge Ibrahim Ibrahimli upheld the 30-day detention order issued by the Sabail District Court, disregarding the appeal. The appellate court serves as the final legal recourse in cases of administrative errors.

Following the decision, Zibeyda Sadygova stated that a complaint would be submitted to the European Court.

It is alleged that Amrah Tahmazov was penalized due to his role as an accuser of President Ilham Aliyev in his Facebook posts, particularly concerning the plight of Alizamin Salayev, who remains incarcerated and has been on a hunger strike for three and a half months. Tahmazov had mentioned a police visit to his home a few days before his arrest, insinuating a connection between his status update highlighting Aliyev and the subsequent actions taken against him.

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