In a ruling delivered on June 20, Nasimi District Court rejected journalist Afgan Mukhtarli’s petition to commute his pre-trial detention to home arrest.
The lead investigator on the case from he Grave Crimes Investigation Department at the Prosecutor General’s Office strongly opposed the petition, on the grounds that Mukhtarli could flee the country.
“The Prosecutor’s Office slanders their own government by claiming that I can escape from the country. Are our borders so porous that people can cross the border at will?” Mukhtarli commented in response to the investigator’s statement.
According to information released by local law enforcement Mukhtarli was detained by officers of the State Border Service at 22:40 (local time) on May 29 in the Balakan district after illegally crossing the Azerbaijani border. At the time of his detention, Mukhtarli esisted police officers. During the search of his person, a large sum of money was found on him.
He now faces charges under Articles 318 (illegal border crossing), 206 (smuggling) and 315.2 (resistance or application of violence concerning the representative of authority) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. A number of international human rights organizations have published statements condemning the arrest and calling for his immediate release.