Karabakh refugees left in the dark

After seven years of hearings the courts never ruled on the family’s lawsuit

The Mammadov family at home
The Mammadov family at home

A family of internally displaced people who live at 4 Leyla Mammadbayli Street, 44a, Bakikhanov settlement, Sabunchu district, Baku, have been using candles for more than a month, ever since the local electricity department cut off the power line that goes to this address. Habib Mammadov says that officials from the Baku Electricity Grid (it has since been abolished) imposed a fine of 800 manats ($472 at the current rate) on his family seven years ago. Ever since that day, their everyday life has been gloomy.

“While I was in Russia earning money to support my family, people from the electricity department broke into my home at night and cut off my power,” Mammadov told Meydan TV. “They explained to my wife that we had allegedly stolen electricity through that power line. After my wife filed complaints, they reconnected the power line but they have been cutting the electricity off several times a month for seven years now. My wife has been going from court to court for years now.”

Mammadov’s wife, Tarana Mammadova, appealed to the Sabunchu district court to have the fine canceled, but the appeal was forwarded a month later to the Narimanov district court in the neighborhood where the Baku Electricity Grid was located, and from there to the Nasimi district court. The Nasimi district court then forwarded the case to Baku Administrative Economic Court Number 1, which subsequently returned it to the Nasimi district court, and the Mammadovs heard nothing else about it.

“We went there [to the Nasimi district court] to inquire about it and they told us that the lawsuit had gone missing,” Habib Mammadov said. “After we sent numerous complaints to the Litigation Council, and judge Khumar Mardanova summoned my wife to tell her that the owner of the house had to file a suit because we did not own the house, and she returned our lawsuit to us. I should add that the owner of the house is an internally displaced person, too. Because we had nowhere to live he gave us that house as a shelter. The house owner provided power of attorney but the court did not accept it. We have been going to courts for seven years now.”

On 22 August this year, the day of the Muslim sacrifice festival Eid al-Adha, officials from the electricity department came and removed the power line which went to the Mammadov family’s home.

“How can you leave people without electricity on a holiday?” Habib Mammadov said. “How can you keep a citizen in darkness for a month? Nobody looks at the complaints we have filed with government agencies. I now believe that the letters we wrote were torn up and thrown away. Nobody even comes to knock on our door and inquire if we are alright and why we write so many letters. We live hand to mouth anyway, and so far no government official has opened our door to ask us, refugees, if we need food or water or anything else… All they do is oppress citizens, take from them their money for food, hurt them, break them, throw them out in the street, and leave them without electricity…”

The Sabunchu district electricity department told Meydan TV that in 2011 they discovered an illegal power line at 44 Leyla Mammadbayli Street, 44a, Bakikhanov settlement, Sabunchu district. They imposed a fine and Tarana Mammadova, who temporarily resides at that address, signed a document acknowledging the fine. The family was given numerous warnings to pay but they never did. Therefore, the power line running to this address was cut off.

Lawyer Vagif Aliyev says that under the law, the statement should not have been written in the name of the people who temporarily reside at the address but in the name of the owner, and the owner should have signed the document. And it is the owner who should have filed a lawsuit to have the fine repealed in court. However, the temporary residents and the owner may file a joint lawsuit. The lawyer said that a suit regarding payment of fines loses its legal force after five years. When appealing to a court, the owner should demand that the fine be annulled because its validity had expired.

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