Supreme Court rules in favor of upholding travel ban of activist

Tofiq Yaqublu

Tofig Yagublu: “They didn’t even let me go to my mother’s funeral”

On October 26, the Supreme Court heard a cassation appeal regarding the permission of Tofig Yagublu, an activist member of the National Council and the opposition party Musavat Party, to leave the country.

In July 2021, Yagublu applied to the court for the removal of the ban on his exit from the country, albeit temporarily, when his mother, who lived in Georgia, was in serious condition. The political activist wanted to see his mother in her last days. At that time, before the Surakhani District Court heard and decided on this appeal, his mother died. In such a case, Tofig Yagublu at least wanted to participate in the funeral ceremony. However, the Surakhani District Court rejected his application. The Baku Court of Appeal also upheld this decision.

On October 26, the panel of judges which considered this issue in the Supreme Court refused to change the decision and lift his travel ban.

Speaking in court, Tofig Yagublu said that he did not expect a fair decision from the court.

“There is no court in this country, only a gang that serves a family. You are also a slave of the system”, he claimed.

Yagublu’s lawyer, Agil Layj, requested that conditions be created for the political activist to at least visit his mother’s grave, and to allow him to leave the country.

According to the decision of the Supreme Court, the activist has exhausted all the means of legal protection in the country regarding this issue. He said that he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights as a last resource.

“I applied for permission to leave the country when my mother was still alive. They did not allow me to be with her in the last days of her life. When my mother passed away, they did not even allow her to attend her funeral. One would think that they would show a little compassion and let me go to the ceremony, but where is the heart in them? They didn’t even let him go…”, Yagublu said.

Tofig Yagublu was arrested on March 22, 2020 on charges of hooliganism. It is alleged that he caused a car accident near the “8th kilometer market”, then insulted the driver of another car and his wife and injured them.

On September 3, 2020, the Nizami District Court sentenced him to four years and three months in prison on this charge. Yagublu, who declared that he started a hunger strike on September 2 in protest against judicial injustice, continued this action for 17 days. As his condition worsened, he was transferred from the detention center to the clinic. On September 18, by the decision of the Baku Appellate Court, he was released under house arrest. After that, the activist stopped his hunger strike. On July 15, the Baku Appellate Court replaced the sentence with a suspended sentence.

Tofig Yagublu pleads not guilty, states that he did not injure anyone, and that he was arrested by a “superior order”.

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