(IRFS/IFEX) - On 11 November 2010, the extraordinary plenary meeting of the Supreme Court reviewed a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling on the case of imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev.
The plenary meeting first of all considered the charges against the journalist under Article 213.2.2 (tax evasion). Public prosecutor Namig Mammadov demanded a sentence of two years, three months and 15 days. The public prosecutor wanted the court to release the defendant, taking into account the time already served.
Fatullayev's lawyer Elchin Sadgiov filed a motion requesting the annulment of the Appeals Court's 5 November decision to sentence Fatullayev to pre-trial detention.
After deliberation, Judge Ramiz Rzayev announced that the Supreme Court would reject the motion. He sentenced Fatullayev to two years and two months in prison. Rzayev, however, did uphold the ECHR decision on the other charges against Fatullayev. The judge did not discuss compensation for Fatullayev, which was a component of the ECHR decision.
On 20 April 2007, Fatullayev was arrested in court after a ruling by the Yasamal District Court on a lawsuit brought by Refugee/IDP Rights Defense Committee chairperson Tatyana Chaladze. After Fatullayev's arrest, a criminal case was opened against him by the National Security Ministry Chief Investigative Office regarding an article published in "Realniy Azerbaijan" newspaper. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the article caused foreign citizens and representatives of international organizations to be concerned for their safety. He was convicted under Articles 214.1 and 283.2.2 of the Criminal Code (threatening terror and incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority) and was sentenced to pre-trial detention. Fatullayev was then convicted under Article 213.2.2 (tax evasion). He was finally sentenced to eight and half years in prison on 30 October 2007 and fined 242,522 AZN (approx. €220,000) by the Grave Crimes Court.
On 29 December 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin were reportedly found on Fatullayev in Prison #12. On 6 July, 2010, Fatullayev was found guilty under Article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (illegal possession of narcotics). His sentence of two years and six months in prison began on the same day. Fatullayev and his lawyer believe that this incident was a set-up, organized so that the court could avoid complying with an ECHR decision regarding the journalist's release.
On 22 April 2010, the ECHR issued a decision calling for Fatullayev's immediate release and for the Azerbaijani government to pay him €27,822 in compensation. The Azerbaijani government filed an appeal with the Grand Chamber of the ECHR regarding the decision. Fatullayev is recognized as a prisoner of conscience by local and international organizations.
Fatullayev founded and was editor-in-chief of both the "Realniy Azerbaijan" and "Gundelik Azerbaijan" newspapers. First published in 2005, "Realniy Azerbaijan" ran as a weekly newspaper, while "Gundelik Azerbaijan" was published daily. Publication of the newspapers stopped after Fatullayev's arrest in 2007.