Friday Wrap-up: EU statement, economist summoned and embezzlement judgment

Police violence. Illustration: Meydan TV

This week saw the EU Parliament issuing a statement about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, disputed economist’s police handling, and former SOCAR CEO facing embezzlement charges.

European Parliament Condemns Human Rights Violations in Azerbaijan

The European Parliament has released a statement addressing human rights issues in Azerbaijan, emphasizing the repression of dissent in the country. The Parliament urged Azerbaijani authorities to halt these accusations and address the situation of political prisoners.

The statement also mentions the arrest of Anar Mammadli, a human rights defender and head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Education Center, on April 29 on smuggling charges. Mammadli, a recipient of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, represents broader concerns about the pressure on civil society and the suppression of critical voices in Azerbaijan. Additionally, the statement highlights the arrests of journalists from independent media outlets, including “AbzasMedia,” “Kanal 13,” and “Toplum TV.”

Expressing concern over the approximately 300 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, the European Parliament called for their immediate release and the dropping of politically motivated charges. The statement urged Azerbaijan to comply with its international obligations and called for sanctions against Azerbaijani officials involved in human rights violations.

Dispute Over Treatment of Azerbaijani Economist by Police

The Ministry of Interior of Azerbaijan has reported that economist Farid Mehralizade was invited for questioning, contrary to claims that he was forcibly taken. According to eyewitness accounts from Meydan TV, Mehralizade was allegedly forced into a car and transported to the police station.

An employee of Meydan TV, who witnessed the event and attempted to record it, reported that their phone was confiscated by force.

In response to the allegations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs denied using force to bring Mehralizade to the station. They stated that Mehralizade was invited for an investigation and that the inquiry is ongoing.

Former SOCAR-AQSH CEO Faces Court Over Embezzlement Charges

Ramin Isayev, the former CEO of SOCAR-AQSH LLC, is set to appear in court soon on charges of embezzling 16 million manats. The Anti-Corruption Department has concluded its 10-month investigation into Isayev’s case. Arrested in June 2023, Isayev, born in 1972, was initially charged under Article 179.4 of the Criminal Code, which pertains to especially large-scale embezzlement.

Following the investigation, an additional charge under Article 193-1.3.2, concerning the legalization of money obtained through crime, was filed against Isayev. These charges carry a potential sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment. The case will be heard at the Baku Serious Crimes Court. Isayev, who has been in custody for nearly a year, denies the accusations and maintains his innocence.

“SOCAR-AQSH” LLC, established in 2007 by the Azerbaijan State Oil Company (SOCAR) along with “Nobel Energy” and “Absheron Drilling Company” LLC (AQSH), is involved in well drilling operations. Isayev, a Harvard University graduate, served as the general director of “SOCAR-AQSH” LLC from 2009 to 2020.

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