A preliminary hearing was held on July 12 in Tbilisi in the case of Ferman Jeyranov – an Azerbaijani surgeon and the co-founder of the Lancet clinic in the Georgian capital.
Jeyranov was arrested in May of this year after local law enforcement agencies received a tip-off from the Azerbaijani government that the Lancet clinic was performing illegal organ transplants.
He is being defended by a group of lawyers under the direction of Gela Nikolashvili.
At the trial, Jeyranov stated that he is the ‘personal prisoner of Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev’. Jeyranov says that the Azerbaijani government believes he is a direct financier of what a recent article labeled as the ‘underground’ political scene of Azerbaijani activists living in Tbilisi.
"I am Aliyev’s personal hostage and prisoner. I am a doctor and have no relation to politics. When a patient comes to the clinic, I'm not interested in his political views. The Georgian prosecutor's office is following me for political reasons, on Aliyev's orders. These [accusations] have no political basis”, Jeyranov said.
Jeyranov’s lawyers appealed to the court to commute his arrest to home arrest, however the court rejected his petition arguing that Jeyranov is a flight risk.
According to local Georgian media, two patients of the Lancet clinic have died after botched organ transplant operations.
In addition to Jeyranov, other Azerbaijani, high-profile public figures have been arrested or kidnapped in recent months, including Deputy Chairwoman of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan Gozel Bayramli, and investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli.