On October 15, the Baku Court of Appeal, held a preliminary hearing on the appeal case of journalist Khadija Ismayil.
At the opening of the hearing, the presiding judge, Ilgar Murguzov asked Ismayil whether she had any objections to the court committee.
“It doesn’t make any difference to me. There isn’t one fair judge within Azerbaijan’s judiciary system. If you have a reason, then go ahead and object”, said the journalist in her response to the question.
Later during the hearing, Khadija Ismayil asked the court committee that Yalchin Imanov, the lawyer who was her defender when she was arrested in December is reinstalled as her defense. Imanov was taken off the case after prosecutor office had him testify as a witness in the criminal investigation against AzadliqRadiosu.
The public prosecutor denied this request, saying reinstating Imanov as her defense would be against the law.
Then, Ismayil’s lawyer Fakhraddin Mehtiyev asked the court to remove Ismayil from the glass cage. The lawyer said her rights to consult with her attorneys are violated as long as she is kept inside the cage.
“Before you arrived, I tried consulting with my lawyer. But my lawyer was kept behind the door, with the guards standing next to him. This is a violation of my right to confidentiality. Plus, I cannot hear you or the prosecutor. At least have some respect not only to my ears but also to your throat, don’t exhaust your vocal cords”, said Khadija after her defense spoke.
The public prosecutor rejected this motion as well. He said the glass cage was in accordance with the Ministry of Justice and that all conditions were provided inside.
The presiding judge, confirmed the prosecutor’s statement, dismissing the motion.
The judge also said anytime Khadija needed to speak to her lawyers all necessary arrangements would be made.
Following this statement, Khadija said she wanted to consult with her lawyer and so the court took a ten-minute break.
But this time, the guards wouldn’t let Khadija speak to her lawyer privately behind the closed door.
The second motion raised by Fakhraddin Mehtiyev was replacing current arrest with house arrest.
“I have not avoided the investigation or tried running away from it. I even returned to the country from a trip abroad. I have not pressured anyone. I could have done it however if I wanted to. But I didn’t, because I believe I am right. The main reason I am kept inside the jail is so that I do not write, communicate with the public, and not work as a journalist. This is clearly the case because why I else would I be placed into isolation cell or be pressured each time something I wrote was published?” said Khadija but the judge muted her microphone not letting her finish her words.
Only after the lawyer objected that the judge turned the microphone back on.
Khadija continued, “The reason I am telling you all this is because I am jailed not because I could evade investigation but because it is purely political”, but the judge yet again muted her microphone not letting the journalist finish her words.
The third and final motion Ismayil’s lawyer attempted at voicing was the request to carry out the judicial process with partial investigation. Lawyer Fakharddin Mehtiyev said there were many motions raised during the investigation and court of first instance. These motions dismantled completely the prosecution. So in order to carry out and investigate the case properly, the lawyer asked that these motions are taken into the account by the court of appeal and actually accepted.
Khadija Ismayil told her lawyer not to be naïve. “My rights were violated not only during the investigation but also during the court of first instance. I was not even provided with the requested pages of my own criminal case. After that it was not difficult to prove my innocence. The court refused to accept the crucial documents”.
But this motion too was rejected. The next hearing will take place on October 29, 3pm local time.