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In latest humiliation, newspaper editor appears in court inside cage

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the latest humiliation imposed on imprisoned newspaper editor Eynulla Fattulayev, who was in a cage when he appeared before a Baku court on 5 November 2010 for his appeal against an additional 30-month jail sentence on a trumped-up charge of heroin possession that he was given in January.

Fattulayev was only told on the morning of 5 November about the hearing, instead of being notified two weeks in advance, as required by Azeri law, so that his defence lawyer could prepare. That and the use of the cage, which prevented him from talking to his lawyer in the courtroom, are just the latest evidence of the way the judicial and political authorities continue to harass him.

His lawyer, Isakhan Ashurov, described the conditions of the trial as disgraceful and unacceptable and walked out of the court. Fattullayev then asked the court to suspend the hearing, but the judge refused.

The founder and editor of two leading opposition newspapers, "Realny Azerbaijan" and "Gundelik Azerbaijan", Fattullayev has been in prison since 2007.

The authorities show no sign of being ready to release him, least of all on the eve of parliamentary elections scheduled for 7 November, despite a European Court of Human Rights ruling on 22 April declaring his imprisonment to be illegal, calling for his immediate release and ordering the government to pay him 27,822 euros in damages and legal costs.

As a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, Azerbaijan is supposed to comply immediately with rulings issued by the European Court of Human Rights. The supreme court is due to issue a decision on 11 November on whether the country should comply with the ruling.

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for compliance with the European Court's ruling and for Fatullayev's immediate release.

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