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IRFS chairman assaulted, injured by police while monitoring event commemorating Che Guevara's birthday

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 14 June 2008, in the "Alaturka" Cafe, an event organized by the "Che Guevera Fan Club" to mark the 80th birthday of Che Guevera and attended by a representative of the Cuban embassy was raided by police. Out of the approximately 25 people present, 20 were detained by police and taken to Nasimi District Police Department #22. Among those detained were IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov and IRFS researchers Rasim Aliyev and Mirrehim Hasanov. The three had gone to conduct monitoring of the event.

At the police department, Huseynov protested against the photographing and fingerprinting of all people detained, and he was then separated from all of the detainees. According to R. Aliyev, Huseynov was taken into a separate room with four unformed and civilian-clothed police officers. Aliyev could hear shouting, cursing and a commotion from outside the door. A civilian-clothed man with glasses threatened Huseynov, saying, "I'll arrest you, I'll kill, I'll bury you," and shouted profanity. After several minutes, E. Huseynov exited the room and the police department.

At the entrance to the police department Huseynov was met by IRFS co-founder, "Ayna" and "Zerkalo" newspapers' correspondent Iddrak Abbasov. Huseynov told him that he had been subjected to physical and psychological pressure. In particular he noted being struck on the back of the neck several times with the handle of a gun, and asked Abbasov to call an ambulance. Abbasov observed Huseynov was having difficulty walking. He and human rights activist Arzu Abdullayev, who was also present, approached the police department and asked them to summon an ambulance, however they refused. According to Abbasov, Huseynov then lost consciousness.

An ambulance eventually did arrive at the scene, and Huseynov was taken to the Centralized Emergency Medical Assistance Hospital. Doctor Galib Ibrahimov told IRFS that Huseynov sustained head and brain trauma, but his condition is stable. According to Ibrahimov, Huseynov is in neurological shock, but his life is not in danger.

Rashid Hajili of the Media Rights Institute visited Huseynov that afternoon. U.S. Embassy Public Affair officer Jonathan Henick and other U.S. Embassy employees visited Huseynov that evening. Several other representatives of diplomatic missions and human rights groups, as well as journalists, reportedly have also visited Huseynov or issued statements of support.

Huseynov is being kept in the critical care department and regained consciousness on 14 June.

IRFS' two other employees, as well as the other people who were detained, were released after being detained approximately seven hours and being photographed and fingerprinted. According to Abdullayev, the detainees also included "Yeni Musavat" newspaper correspondent Elshan Balakhanli, who was only released after parliamentarian Igbal Agazadeh and Penah Huseyn, as well as others, interceded on the journalist's behalf.

On 15 June in the evening hours Nasimi Region Police Department #22 Police Unit investigator and police captain Yusif Abdinov interrogated Huseynov in the hospital. Media Rights Institute Chairman, lawyer Rashid Hajili and a court medical expert were present during the questioning.

According to Hajili, Huseynov was asked questions about the incident and he explained everything in detail. Hajili noted the initiation of an investigation on E. Huseynov's beating is a positive development and said that he hopes it will be impartial.

However, Radio Liberty was told by Police Department #22 that Huseynov injured himself. In same report, doctors noted that Huseynov cannot accept water or food and his health remains poor.

Huseynov considers the statement of Police Department #22 nonsense. "I evaluate this as an attempt by police to cover up their unlawful action. Such behavior is characteristic of the police. For example, they said that 'Gundalik Azerbaijan' employee Uzeyir Jafarov injured himself, when he was beaten in April 2007," he said.

IRFS released a statement about the incident. IPD Chairman Leyla Yunus told IRFS that Nasimi District Police Department #22 Chief, colonel-lieutenant Mehdi Tarlanov and his assistant Police Major Azer Karimzade are directly responsible for the incident.

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For further information on the Jafarov case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/82796

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