On 13 August, Ilgar Mammadov, chairman of the ReAl party (Republican Alternative Party) and one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent political prisoners, was unexpectedly released from jail after having been imprisoned for more than five years.
He remains on probation for another two years and will likely not be able to travel and leave the country. He and his lawyers will continue to demand his unconditional release.
Just a few days earlier, on 10 August, the Sheki District Appeal Court had indefinitely postponed his trial on grounds of the prosecutor not being able to attend the planned session. The new date, set at 9 am this Monday morning, was announced over the weekend.
The opposition politician has appealed his sentence before the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan. While his last appeal has been rejected, the Court announced in July 2018 that it would return Mammadov’s case to the Sheki Appeal Court for renewed consideration.
Ilgar Mammadov, a well-known critic of the Azerbaijani government and potential candidate for the 2013 presidential elections, was arrested on 4 February 2013. A few days before, he had published an article about recent protests in the town of Ismailly, criticizing the way authorities were handling the situation. He was accused of organizing mass disorder and resisting arrest. On 17 March 2014, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had
twice that Mammadov had been arrested without reasonable evidence as a punishment for his criticism of the government, and that his right to a fair trial according to Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights had been violated.
The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers as well as numerous international organizations have repeatedly called for Mammadov’s immediate and unconditional release, but the Azerbaijani government has so far refused to do so.
In December 2017, the ECHR officially launched infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan for its non-compliance, with possible consequences being sanctions or the exclusion from the Council of Europe.