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Court upholds pre-trial detention sentence for two bloggers

(IRFS/IFEX) - The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and Media Rights Institute (MRI) strongly condemn the 20 July 2009 decision of the Appellate Court to uphold the pre-trial detention sentence for young bloggers Emin Milli (Emin Abdullayev) and Adnan Hajizade.

IRFS and MRI believe that the decision to reject their appeal without considering the circumstances of their arrest, the inhumane treatment they received and the denial of their requests to see their lawyers suggests that this decision is politically motivated.

On 8 July 2009, at approximately 8:00 p.m. (local time), Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were sitting at a table in a restaurant along with several other young adults discussing the internet activity of youth organizations, when two athletic-looking men came up to them, insulted them, and demanded that they stop talking about politics. They then attacked Milli and Hajizade, who sustained physical injuries. When they reported the attack to the police, they were arrested and detained for 48 hours while their attackers were set free.

On 10 July, Sabail District Court Judge Rauf Ahmadov sentenced Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade to two months pre-trial detention under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code. Both Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade are being held in the Investigative Prison of Baku.

IRFS and MRI believe that the real reason for the detention of Milli and Hajizade is their promotion of free thought and non-conformist ideas among youth.

IRFS and MRI note that Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were the only working people in their families and both of them have elderly parents in their care. Therefore, their arrests create both moral and financial problems for their families.

IRFS and MRI consider the Appellate Court's decision to uphold the lower court's claim that the accused could hinder investigation proceedings absurd and unfounded. This is not based on valid evidence, but simple hypothesis. Therefore choosing the harshest sentence in this case is unacceptable.

IRFS and MRI call on Azerbaijan's government to immediately free Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade and to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who committed this provocation and inflicted seriously bodily harm against the two youth activists.

IRFS and MRI call on the international community to strengthen their efforts with Azerbaijan's government to release Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli.
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