On August 6, 2015, the Azerbaijani Prosecutor asked the Baku Grave Crimes Court to sentence Leyla Yunus to 11 years in jail, and her husband Arif Yunus to 9 years. The next hearing is scheduled for August 10.
“Since the end of the Baku Games, the repression against critic voices amongst the Azeri civil society has intensified. Authorities have recently confirmed harsh jail sentences for human rights defenders such as Rasul Jafarov and Intigam Aliyev, in speedy appeal hearings. We fear that Leyla and Arif will face the same fate,”
International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, Honorary President Souhayr Belhassen said on August 7. “Shamelessly, Azerbaijan is fast moving towards a full-blown dictatorship.”
“We are dismayed about this new trend which is extremely evident in the hearings following the European Games, namely denying international observers access to the courtroom or undermining their effective independent monitoring presence by not allowing in their interpreters, which amounts to a serious violation of the principles of transparency and publicity of judicial debates”, World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) Secretary General Gerald Staberock added.
The Baku Court of Grave Crimes on August 3, 2015 postponed the trial of Azerbaijani human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus due to Arif’s deteriorating health
Leyla Yunus is accused of fraud, tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship, while her husband is accused of fraud. They are also accused of treason and spying for Armenia, the charges for which the authorities said they would be tried later.
On August 3, the
Human Rights Watch
renewed calls for releasing Leyla and Arif Yunus.
“The decision to lock up and prosecute Leyla and Arif Yunus was already a travesty of justice, but to pursue the trial given their poor health is despicable” said
, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Bringing an elderly man who is so sick he can’t even sit up into a courtroom only exposes this farce for what it is – a political show trial.”
FIDH called on the Azerbaijani authorities to put an end to this crackdown on civil society and to release all human rights defenders detained in the country, including Leyla and Arif.