(IRFS/IFEX) - On 8 October 2009, a hearing was held in the Baku Appellate Court, presided by Judge Jamal Ramazanov, on an appeal from both parties against a decision by the Nizami District Court. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by Tahmasib Novruzov, chairman of Azadlig Harakatchilari Union, against "Nota" newspaper deputy editor Sardar Alibeyli (Aliyev) under article 148 (insult) of the Criminal Code, and the paper's employees Ramiz Tagiyev and Faramaz Novruzoglu (Allahverdiyev) under article 147.2 of the Criminal Code.
Alibeyli's lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, said that there was no indication of insult in the article in question and he filed a motion to submit the same articles for philological interpretation. The judge decided not to accept the motion.
At the same time, Novruzov said that the decision issued by the Nizami District Court was very "light" and he asked for more serious punishment.
In his final speech during the trial, Alibeyli said that the lawsuits had been filed following orders from the president of the Azerbaijani Republic. "Dear Judge, I recognize you as an objective judge, but I know that the restoration of justice will not depend on you today," the editor said.
Novruzoglu and Tagiyev said that they have not written any insulting articles about Novruzov.
The judge decided to uphold the ruling made by the Nizami District Court. Alibeyli and Novruzoglu were sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment, and Tagiyev was sentenced to 6 months' corrective labor. They were handcuffed and taken out of the court hall.
On 31 March, Khatai Court Judge Togrul Aliyev issued a decision on the lawsuit filed by Novruzov in connection with various articles published in "Nota". According to the verdict, the newspaper had to publish a retraction and the journalists were forced to apologise.
Novruzov filed a special lawsuit again under articles 147.2 and 148 of the Criminal Code because of the article "Apology article for Tahmasib Novruzov, whose honor is stepped on and whose dignity is degraded," which was published in the 05-11 April edition of the newspaper.
In June, the case was sent to the Nizami District Court for consideration. On 22 July - National Press Day - the Nizami District Court issued a verdict, sentencing Alibeyli and Novruzoglu to three months' imprisonment. Tagiyev was then sentenced to six months' conditional imprisonment. The verdict was stayed until after the Appellate Court had made a decision.