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Afgan Mukhtarli, the Azerbaijan journalist who disappeared from Georgia and was sentenced to six years in his own country for border violations, testified Friday at an Appeals Court hearing in Shaki.
But Gafur Mammadov, an Azerbaijan border guard who accused Mukhtarli of assault, failed to attend the hearing.
Mukhtarli again told the court that he was abducted in Georgia last May 29, forced across the border, and then taken to prison in Baku.
Azerbaijani authorities claim he tried to cross the border illegally, was illegally carrying 10,000 euro, and assaulted a border guard. Mukhtarli was convicted and sentenced to six years.
Mukhtarli told Judge Rafael Aliyev and the court that he has no faith in the Appeals Court making a fair decision, but considers the process to be necessary before his case is heard in the European Court of Appeals in Strasbourg.
“Top employees of the military units were involved in this operation – a lieutenant colonel, a colonel. I’m surprised you didn’t involve the major-general,” Mukhtari told the court, drawing a warning from the judge.
He accused the Azerbaijan prosecutors of not allowing him to speak to Georgian investigators about what happened that night on the Georgia side of the border.
The hearing was attended by his relatives and activists from both Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The judge scheduled the next hearing for March 14 at 3 pm. The judge said notification would be sent to the border guard Mammadov.
Rustavi-2 interview with Mukhtarli and Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova: