European Court to look into case of "Said Group"
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has initiated communication with the Azerbaijani government on the case of Said Dadashbayli (alleged leader of the "Said Group"), who is currently serving a 14-year sentence in Gobustan prison.
On 27 November, Dadashbayli's defense lawyer, Fariz Namazali, said that a complaint about the violation of Articles 6.1 and 6.3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing the rights to a fair trial, has been filed.
In January 2007, Said Dadashbayli and 10 others were arrested on charges of insurrection, terrorism and illegal possession of weapons and drugs. They were sentenced to prison terms ranging between 12 and 14 years.
According to the authorities, Said Dadashbayli and his group had conspired to seize power in Azerbaijan and establish Sharia law. Local human rights activists and international organizations say, however, that the group fell victim to a fabricated criminal case conducted by officers of Azerbaijan's former Ministry for National Security.
Human rights activists have declared all of the convicts political prisoners. They further claim that both the preliminary investigation as well as the judicial inquiry were not conducted in line with usual procedures. The defendants were allegedly tortured while in detention at the Ministry for National Security, and their relatives threatened and intimidated.
One of the defendants, Emin Mammadov, died under mysterious circumstances in the course of the investigation. All of this, together with the fact that the complaints filed by the defendants were not considered, reinforces the belief that the criminal case against them was indeed politically motivated.
During the 10 years Said Dadashbayli and the other convicts have already spent in high-security prisons, several have developed serious health issues. Some of them have since lost their relatives, including Said Dadashbayli, whose mother died while her son was in prison.
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