Intigam Aliyev is conditionally released

Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court ruled on March 28 for the release of Intigam Aliyev, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist. His 7.5-year jail term was changed to a five-year suspended sentence.

As reported earlier, Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov filed a cassation appeal against Aliyev’s sentence, deeming it too harsh, Aliyev’s attorney Javad Javadov said.

Javadov and another lawyer Shahla Gumbatova were present at the hearing. But journalists, representatives of civil society and diplomatic missions were not allowed inside.

On April 22, 2015, the Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced Intigam Aliyev to seven and a half year imprisonment on charges of tax evasion, abuse of authority, illegal entrepreneurship, and appropriation. International rights groups describe Aliyev as a prisoner of conscience, and charges against him as politically motivated. Aliyev’s health severely deteriorated in jail. He reportedly suffered from violent headaches, loss of appetite and insomnia.

Aliyev was one of the first Azerbaijani lawyers to bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights and has also trained Azerbaijan’s new generation of human rights lawyers. Aliyev was announced the winner of the International Bar Association's Human Rights Award in 2015. He founded the Legal Education Society in 1998 to provide legal assistance to marginalized groups. He has represented many Azerbaijani activists and human rights defenders.

Aliyev’s defense insists on full acquittal

The defense insists on nothing less than Aliyev’s full acquittal and termination of criminal proceedings against him. Javadov said that the defense would lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights claiming violations of Aliyev’s rights.

Aliyev’s son Nadjmin Kamil said that the Supreme Court’s ruling was “expected.”

“Although we do not believe that this is restoration of justice, since the nature of the verdict remains guilty, but the release is important for my father’s health, and the continuation of his activities,” he said.