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"Ayan" editor-in-chief hospitalised after being beaten

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 13 September 2009, at around 2:30 a.m. (local time), the "Ayan" newspaper's founder and editor-in-chief, Javid Alasgaroglu (Shiraliyev), was beaten and sustained injuries. Alasgaroglu's relatives called the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) hotline at 3:22 a.m. and said that the editor-in-chief was taken, in an unconscious state, to the Semashko hospital. IRFS employees immediately went to the hospital, but were unable to obtain information regarding Alasgaroglu's condition. Neurosurgeon Fakhraddin Zeynalov, who admitted the patient, refused to give any information regarding the editor's condition.

Alasgaroglu's father, Alasgar Shiraliyev, told IRFS that the editor left his house in the Nasimi District at around 2:30 a.m. to smoke a cigarette. When he failed to return, his brother went to find him. His relatives, who found Alasgaroglu unconscious near his residence, brought him to the hospital. He had sustained injuries to his head, according to his father.

Although Alasgaroglu's relatives told IRFS that they do not know who beat him, they think the assault might be related to his journalistic work. According to his father, Alasgaroglu recently appealed to law enforcement agents after being stalked.

A lawsuit for libel was previously filed against Alasgaroglu under article 147 of the Criminal Code. Agabey Agayev, the director of the Vilash water depot in the Masalli region, filed a civil lawsuit against the "Ayan" newspaper, and demanded that it pay 50,000 AZN (approx. US$62,200) in fines and publish a correction.

Employees of the Nasimi District Police Unit #19 went to the hospital in connection with the attack on Alasgaroglu, took statements from the editor's relatives and visited the scene of the assault. IRFS employees went to the scene of the attack as well; however, the police did not provide any official information about the incident.

The Duty Department of the Nasimi District Police Unit #19 told IRFS that they had obtained a statement from Alasgaroglu. An on duty officer said that Alasgaroglu stated that an unknown person physically assaulted him while he was smoking a cigarette in the yard of his residence, said Chief Lieutenant Aliyev, an on-duty officer, emphasising that an investigation of the incident is being carried out.

Alasgaroglu was was subsequently transferred to a hospital ward. There he told IRFS employees that he does not think this incident is a coincidence and believes that it is related to his professional work. "I left at 2:00 a.m. to smoke a cigarette, which is a habit of mine before going to sleep, when someone called me. It was dark. I thought he wanted to light his cigarette, but I saw three people when I approached him. One of them began to beat me," said Alasgaroglu, adding that they let him go when his neighbour's car came into the yard.

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