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Editor sentenced to a year and a half of "corrective labour" in libel case

(IRFS/IFEX) - The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the 3 February 2010 court verdict sentencing "Femida 007" newspaper editor-in-chief Eyyub Karimov to a year and a half of "corrective labour".

Interior Minister Ramil Usubov filed a lawsuit against Karimov under article 147.2 (libel by accusing someone of a grave or especially grave crime) of the Criminal Code relating to articles entitled "Letter fancier" and "NSM and the Chief Prosecutor's Office know well who ordered it", which were published in "Femida 007", and a separate article entitled "Internal Ministry inside and outside of the game", published in the "Azadlig" newspaper.

In addition to the year and a half of corrective labour, Yasamal District Court Judge Khagani Tagiyev ordered Karimov to pay 15% of his salary to the government.

The plaintiff's representatives, Dabuleyka Guliyev and Alirza Habilov, and Karimov himself participated in the hearing. In his final statement, Karimov said that he had been critical but not insulting or libelous in his articles. "I put my personal opinions in these articles and it is unacceptable to be indicted for my views," Karimov said.

Guliyev said that they did not want Karimov to be imprisoned, but rather to be sentenced to two years of corrective labour.

Karimov told IRFS that he considers the verdict to be biased and will file an appeal against it.

IRFS has noted that several journalists in Azerbaijan have been sentenced to conditional imprisonment for articles they have written. All of the cases have contributed to a worsening freedom of speech and press freedom situation.

IRFS calls on Azerbaijan's government to overturn the verdict issued against Karimov, to end the persecution of journalists for simply carrying out their work, to release all imprisoned journalists and to decriminalise defamation.

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