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Blogger Adnan Hajizade released

(IRFS/IFEX) - The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) welcomes the 18 November 2010 decision by the Baku Appeals Court for the early release of youth blogger Adnan Hajizade. Judge Sahibkhan Mirzayev ruled for the conditional release of Hajizade, who had seven months and 21 days remaining in his sentence. Hajizade was set free in the courtroom.

Hajizade was arrested along with fellow blogger Emin Milli after an incident at a restaurant on 8 July 2009. Although they were the victims of a physical assault, they were sent to prison on charges of "hooliganism" and "inflicting intentional minor bodily harm". They were sentenced to two and a half and two years in prison respectively.

Judge Sahibkhan Mirzayev chaired the hearing at the Baku Appeals Court. Hajizade's lawyer Isakhan Ashurov said that a "negative behaviour" report submitted by personnel from Prison #14 had not been properly investigated. The report had resulted in the obstruction of Hajizade's parole application before a court of first instance. Hajizade had already served more than half his sentence and his lawyer asked the judge to grant him parole. Prison #14 representative Ali Nabiyev stated that they stood by their original report, which said that Hajizade should not be given an early release. Public prosecutor Chingiz Shukurov declared that Hajizade had not violated any rules in prison and asked the judge to fulfill the appeal. After deliberation, the judge ruled for Hajizade's conditional release.

IRFS calls on the government to demonstrate goodwill and release the other blogger, Milli, and journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, who, according to the organisation, are also imprisoned on fabricated charges.


BACKGROUND:

On 8 July 2009, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Milli and Hajizade were sitting at a table in a restaurant along with several other young adults when two people attacked them. Milli and Hajizade were both injured in the attack. Although they appealed to the police as victims, the police detained them as suspects for 48 hours, but freed the attackers. On 10 July 2009, Sabail District Court judge Rauf Ahmadov issued a decision based on Article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code sentencing Milli and Hajizade to two months in pre-trial detention. On 20 July 2009, the Appellate Court upheld the decision of the lower court. A criminal case based on Articles 221.2.1 (hooliganism) and 127 (inflicting intentional minor bodily harm) of the Criminal Code was then opened against the two bloggers. On 11 November 2009, the Sabail District Court sentenced Milli to two and a half years and Hajizade to two years in prison. On 10 March 2010, the Baku Appeals Court adopted a decision to uphold the verdict of the Sabail District Court. Local and international organizations recognized the young bloggers as prisoners of conscience.
Case history

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