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2023, 30 May, çərşənbə axşamı, Bakı vaxtı 06:27

Khadija Ismayil's Trial Continues In Baku

Azerbaijan. Baku. Journalist Khadija Ismayilova

The hearing in the case of Khadija Ismayilova continued on August 19. As the court proceeded with evaluating and presenting documents, Khadija Ismayil requested the court to present the document proving Tural Mustafayev’s unstable psychological state at the time of attempted suicide. However this document was nowhere to be found.

Instead another expert group presented its opinion to the court. According to this opinion, while Tural Mustafayev was affected by being unemployed at the time and having issues in his relationship, it was also Khadija’s attitude towards him that pushed him to the verge of committing a suicide.

According to the same opinion, Mustafayev was perfectly healthy at the time and did not suffer from any psychological disorders.

In her defense Khadija Ismayil said, “We raised a motion earlier on having a chance to form the final expert group or have a say in who is in the expert group. We had questions, which we wanted to ask. Our motion was partially met. We agreed only with one expert but our questions were not included in their evaluation. At the end we realized we were lied to- there are 3 experts, and only one of them was picked in an agreement with us. According to Procedural Code, the expert group needs to inform the defendant within 10 days of their final evaluation. But I received the decision that was made back in December only in February. This is clear violation of the law. And if you accept this violation as evidence then please, continue”.

During the court Khadija Ismayil also requested it presents her with original agreements the court claims Ismayil signed with Azadliq Radiosu employees Ilgar Rasulov and Rafig Mammadli. Surprisingly these documents were too missing from file. Khadija yet again informed the court of the mistake they were making when comparing Baku bureau with a representative in Azerbaijan – these were not the same things."

Another motion that was raised requested the court to have Imran Nurmammadov, Elchin Aliyev (state tax inspectors from the Department of Taxes) and Emin Mammadli and Zaur Mammadov (representatives of the forensic center) testify in court.

Other motions included:

  • Reexamination of complex accounting;
  • Adding the letter sent by Azadliq Radiosu and addressed to presiding judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva and Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov to the list of documentation presented at the court.

Khadija also spoke about the interim declaration prepared by the experts, which according to Khadija Ismayil and her lawyers isn’t based on facts; hence its conclusion is biased.

“It looks like they simply wrote something because they were told to do so. They have failed to provide facts. Everything written in that declaration is false or fabricated. Not only I have never been the head of the representative, I actually have never been in touch with them. I have only headed Baku bureau. To know and understand this, you don’t have to be a university graduate, its enough to have finished the first three years of primary school. I do not believe that the employees of the Ministry of Taxes are so uneducated not to understand this simple fact. I know, this is a politically motivated order and they were forced to write this document. Once again we are trying to prove here that yoghurt is white. It is unfortunate that the court is refusing to get rid of its habit of repeating what prosecutor says. I suspect that the sentence will be exactly the same as the indictment."

"Actually we don’t want to prove anything to the court here. We are simply trying to find out two things for ourselves:

  1. whether the court has given enough time to complete this investigation thoroughly;
  2. and what is the role of the Ministry of Taxes and the Prosecutor’s office in this grudge;"

"As for those who have compiled the interim declaration, all I want to do is to see their faces.”

Later, a number of other documents were announced at the hearing.

One of these documents showed an agreement signed between Radio Production Union, Communication and Technologies Ministry in Azerbaijan and the US Broadcasting Board of Governors in relation to Azadliq Radiosu broadcasting in Azerbaijan.

“4 out of 5 charges I am facing have to do with Azadliq Radiosu”

Khadija Ismayil said, out of five charges she is facing, four have to do with the criminal case opened against Azadliq Radiosu. Suspecting that the prosecutor will object to her lawyers’ motions, Khadija read out a letter that was sent from RFE/RL headquarters to the court proving this.

The letter once again highlighted the illegal intervention by the Prosecutor General office as well as the Ministry of Taxes into the work of Azadliq Radiosu. The letter also concludes that additional charges pressed against Khadija Ismayil in February are clearly in relation with Azadliq Radiosu and its work in Azerbaijan.

“Before the tax inspection of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Baku bureau was finalized, a separate case was made out of the on-going criminal case against our former colleague Khadija Ismayilova. In order to strengthen the case against journalist Ismayilova [she was originally charged with inciting someone to attempt suicide] she was also charged with abuse of authority, money laundering, illegal entrepreneurship, and tax evasion all of which were committed during her time of employment with Azadliq Radiosu.”

But Khadija Ismayil was interrupted reading the letter by the judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva who said, since the letter was addressed to her, she will read it when it reaches her.

Khadija also requested that the letter is included in the documentation of the case, which was refused by the judge.

In the meantime, the prosecutor said, “the criminal case materials did not need recommendations stated in the letter. Hence, the letter should be rejected all together”.

Out of all the motions, the prosecutor agreed only to one- inviting the experts who worked on the interim declaration to the court.

Only two out of four experts who worked on the interim declaration were invited for questioning after the break. Imran Nurmammadov was the first to testify however, his questioning was interrupted as is it was the end of the working day.

Follow Azadliq Radiosu live blog in English and Azerbaijani for more minute by minute developments at the court.