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Editor's detention prolonged by two more months

(IRFS/IFEX) - The detention term of editor Eynulla Fatullayev in the Baku Investigative Prison has been prolonged by two more months. Fatullayev is editor-in-chief of the "Gundelik Azerbaijan" and "Realniy Azerbaijan" newspapers. IRFS was informed of the development by the editor's lawyer, Elchin Sadigov.

According to Sadigov, on 25 February 2010 the Garadag District Court ordered that Fatullayev be held in the Baku Investigative Prison until 30 April. Sadigov said the ruling would be appealed because the extension of the term was not substantiated in the decision. The lawyer added that on 20 February the Garadag District Prosecutor's Office sent the editor and his lawyer a letter stating that the investigation was concluded. However, a motion was later made to prolong the term.

Sadigov added that the European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, and several other diplomats visited Fatullayev in the investigative prison on 25 February. The diplomats told the journalist that they appealed to Azerbaijan's administration several times to release him, but were unsuccessful. They told him to be patient.

According to the Mediaforum website, at the end of March Fatullayev's appeal will be considered at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

On 29 December 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin were allegedly found on Fatullayev. The editor and his lawyer believe this trumped-up charge was aimed at keeping Fatullayev in jail regardless of the ECHR's ruling on his case. A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in a quantity (amount) exceeding that required for personal consumption) and he was transferred to the Baku Investigative Prison #2 on 2 January.

Fatullayev was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison on 21 April 2007 for insulting honor and dignity. He was later convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred and abusing authority), and 213.2.2 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison on 30 October 2007. Prior to the latest charge levelled against him, Fatullayev was serving his sentence in prison #12.

"Realniy Azerbaijan" was a weekly paper, while "Gundelik Azerbaijan" was publishing as a daily since 2005. Fatullayev established the newspapers and was the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after his arrest in 2007.

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