Azerbaijani journalist Rasim Aliyev succumbed to his wounds today on August 9, a day after he was severely beaten by relatives of soccer player Javid Huseynov. Aliyev was assaulted in the Bayil neighborhood of Baku, one of the area’s central streets that is under constant security camera surveillance. He was buried on August 9.
Aliyev criticized Javid Huseynov, a player of Gabala soccer club, for his unethical behavior when answering the question of a Greek journalist following a soccer game. When the journalist approaced Huseynov and asked why the latter took out a Turkish flag, Huysenov snapped, pulled a hand gesture and said the two countries were friends. On his personal Facebook wall, Aliyev wrote: “I do not want, someone this amoral, impertinent and unable to control himself, represent me on European soccer fields”.
In his last interview, Aliyev told Meydan TV that he was contacted by Huseynov’s cousin, who suggested that the two men meet over tea. After arriving at their meeting destination in front of the Bayil market, Aliyev was beaten by “6-7 people,” who also stole Aliyev’s wallet and phone. The journalist contacted the police, who reportedly did not do anything about the incident.
As a result of the beating, Aliyev suffered fractures in his left rib and lost hearing in his left ear.
“Later his condition worsened. Following another examination he was taken into surgery. The doctors removed his spleen. They also realized his lung was injured,” Aliyev’s father told local reporters.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Office of General Prosecutor released the following statement regarding Aliyev’s murder: “On August 8 at around 18.00 Rasim Aliyev was beaten by a group of unknown men in Bayil settlement of Sabail district. He was then placed into a hospital with severe and multiple body injuries. He died August 9 at around 05.00 as a result of sustained injuries.”
“The criminal case was opened under the Article 126.3 of the Criminal Code (intentional infliction of body harm causing death). There is an investigation team looking into the case. [If found guilty the suspects are facing anywhere between 7 to 12 years in jail.]. The case is under close supervision of the General Prosecutor and the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” the statement read,
Aliyev worked for the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, leading media monitoring group in Azerbaijan. The institution was subject to government pressure last year and was forced to shut down following freezing of its bank accounts and persecution of its founder and director Emin Huseynov. Its office was raided and then sealed shut. When the organization shut down Aliyev continued his work as freelance reporter.
This was not an isolated incident. Aliyev was subject to violent beating and attacks before. He also received a series of threat messages and on July 25, the journalist wrote on this Facebook profile the following update: “Dear friends, where do I need to complain if I am getting threats and being intimidated via social media networks? Please let me know.”