On August 7, journalists, civil society activists and even family members were barred from attending the trial of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.
Ismayilova stands accused of embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power, in a process widely seen as politically motivated. If convicted, she could face up to 12 years in prison.
Ismaiylova was kept in the defendant’s glass cage. Her lawyers requested that Ismayilova be released from the glass cage. But the judge denied the motion, describing his decision as a safety measure for Ismayilova.
The alleged victim, Tural Mustafayev, who filed the original complaint against Ismayilova, did not appear in court. His whereabouts remain unknown.
While journalists and family relatives were kept out of the courtroom, participants in the process did not appear to have any connection to the process. When asked by Meydan TV journalists, one court attendant said that she was not a family member. After leaving the room, court attendants refused to identify themselves to Meydan TV journalists. One of them attacked a journalist breaking the camera.
Other reporters also recorded acts of violence against journalists. The police did not interfere as journalists filming outside were being attacked, one reporter said.
Human rights groups condemned the charges against Ismayilova as being retaliatory for her reporting on corruption in the Azerbaijani government
“It is outrageous enough that Khadija Ismayilova is on trial on fabricated charges, but authorities are now preventing public access to the proceedings,” Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator at the
Committee to Protect Journalists
, Nina Ognianova, said. “This trial is a travesty of justice and we call on Azerbaijan to drop all charges against Ismayilova. If the trial must proceed, we call on officials in Baku to open it to observers to ensure fairness and transparency.”