Quest for justice: Timeline of Elmar Huseynov’s murder case

More than a decade has passed since Elmar Huseynov’s murder. His widow’s relentless efforts at justice foundered on red tape and the government’s radio silence.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has launched an investigation into the murder of Elmar Huseynov, editor-in-chief of


magazine. On March 2, 2005 Huseynov was gunshot in the mouth at his doorstep, in a brazen murder that remains unsolved. Those who ordered the murder are still at large, despite President Ilham Aliyev’s pledges to bring them justice.

The investigation is being conducted based on the complaint of Rushaniya Huseynova, the journalist’s widow, submitted on February 17, 2010.

As part of investigations, the ECHR sent a request to the Azerbaijani authorities demanding that all materials pertaining to the criminal case be submitted to the European Court.

However, the underlying problem is that one of the issues involved in the request is the possible participation of Azerbaijani authorities in Huseynov’s assassination.

The following is stated in the report titled

Rushaniya Huseynova vs. Azerbaijan

published by the European Court:

Rushaniyya Huseinova, the Applicant is a citizen of Azerbaijan. She was born in Azerbaijan in 1978, and currently lives in Norway.  At the ECHR, her rights are defended by  K.Rognlien, a lawyer who works in Oslo.

The Applicant has described the circumstances of the case as follows:


Assassination of the Applicant’s spouse

Elmar Huseinov, the Applicant’s spouse, was an independent journalist well-known in Azerbaijan. He served as Editor-In-Chief of the weekly Monitor magazine until the day of his assassination. This magazine was a publication harshly critical of the authorities.

Even before the assassination, numerous civil claims and a criminal case were filed in court against Elmar Huseynov for his articles critical of the country’s president, members of the government, and other persons holding official positions. Altogether, 34 cases were filed against him. Moreover, copies of his magazine were confiscated, and its publication was obstructed by the government numerous times.

According to the Applicant, her spouse had been regularly threatened for his critical articles. In January 2004, police officers threatened him with death and demanded that he stop writing articles about the president and his family.

On March 2, 2005, at around 9 PM, Elmar Huseynov was shot seven times on the third floor of his apartment building as he returned home from work. Elmar Huseynov’s assassination has been widely covered by the local and international media. International organizations, including the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, have unambiguously condemned the assassination.

The president of Azerbaijan issued an official statement the next day, in which he condemned the incident and called the assassination “a great disgrace for the reputation of the country and a blow to the democratic development of Azerbaijan.”


Investigation of the Criminal Case

On March 2, immediately after the assassination took place, a criminal case was launched at the Investigation Bureau on Serious Offences of the General Prosecutor’s Office, based on Article 120.2.4 (homicide) and Article 228.1 (illegal possession of weapons) of the Criminal Code.

On March 4, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of National Security issued a joint statement and informed the public of the criminal case which had been launched.

According to the applicant, she was interrogated multiple times in relation to the assassination of her husband. In her testimony, she stated that she had seen a man acting suspiciously at the entrance of their former apartment building.

On April 6, 2005 the criminal case was reclassified as Article 277 (terrorism) of the Criminal Code. Also, the criminal case was taken from the General Prosecutor’s Office and passed to the Ministry of National Security.

On May 4, the General Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of National Security issued a joint statement and informed the public that an individual known as T.X., a citizen of Georgia, had been identified as involved in the assassination. The statement declared that T.X. had left Azerbaijan immediately after committing the homicide, and has been declared internationally wanted. It was also mentioned that the investigation had been conducted in joint cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) of the United States and the Central Security Office of Turkey.

The above-mentioned law-enforcement bodies of Azerbaijan issued yet another joint statement on May 20. This time, they informed the public about another individual, T.A., involved in the homicide. T.A. is also a citizen of Georgia. Just as in the previous statement, they mentioned that he had also been declared internationally wanted.

On May 31, 2005 the Applicant wrote a letter to the Ministry of National Security requesting information on her spouse’s assassination. In that letter, she mentioned that even though the investigation recognized her as a victim, she had not been in any way informed about the investigation process.

On June 2 and 12, 2005, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of National Security issued yet another joint statement to inform the public about the forensic medical examination held in the United States.  It was stated that the results of the examination had confirmed the direct participation of T.X. and T.A. in the assassination.

On November 20, 2005, the Applicant once again appealed to the Ministry of National Security requesting an effective investigation of her spouse’s assassination. She also requested the investigation body to provide information on the investigation process.

According to the Applicant, she had lived under threat for an entire year after the assassination took place, following her statements on her spouse’s having been killed by the authorities. Because of this, she left the country on 2006 and was granted asylum in Norway.

In 2008, the Applicant’s lawyer, in conjunction with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, sent a letter to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of National Security and requested copies of the documents from the criminal case on Elmar Huseynov’s assassination.

The Ministry of National Security answered the Applicant’s lawyer with a letter on July 18, 2008, stating that he could not obtain the copies of the documents since he was not a member of the Azerbaijan Bar Association, nor had he submitted a notarized warrant of attorney. It was also stated that according to Articles 87 and 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Azerbaijan, the victim, as well as his/her representative, may only go over the materials of a criminal case, along with any related documents, after the preliminary investigation is over. As the investigation was ongoing, the requests were denied.

The Ministry of National Security sent another letter on March 17, 2009 informing the Applicant that her request for copies of the documents had been processed and repeating the previous message. In addition, it stated that the period of investigation had been extended until September 2m 2009. No information whatsoever about the investigation itself was included in the letter.

According to the Applicant, even though the investigative body claims that the investigation was ongoing, and the persons suspected of committing the crime were declared internationally wanted, there is no information about their warrants at Interpol.


The Applicant says that her spouse was assassinated by the representatives the Azerbaijani authorities, and thus the state has not conducted an effective investigation into this criminal case. This is a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention.

The applicant notes that assassination of her spouse is also violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention, since Elmar Huseynov was assassinated for his journalistic work.

The Applicant also stresses that Article 13 (right to means of effective legal protection) of the European Convention was violated.

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