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Government claims to have complied with ECHR judgment on Fatullayev case

(IRFS/IFEX) - 27 April 2011 - According to the APA news agency, Azerbaijan's delegate to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Chingiz Asgarov, noted that "in accordance with the judgment passed against [journalist] Eynulla Fatullayev, he still owes the state 260,000 AZN due to tax evasion." The government has allegedly "paid" Fatullayev the compensation ordered by the ECHR, but the money is currently being held in a frozen account. Fatullayev cannot access the compensation funds because the Azerbaijani Supreme Court has ruled that the journalist owes 260,000 AZN (approx. 220,000 EUR) to the state for tax evasion.

"The Azerbaijani government's position is that the European court judgment has been fully implemented. Two decisions passed by the Azerbaijani Supreme Court concluded that according to the ECHR judgment, the criminal case against Fatullayev should be terminated and he should be released. The Supreme Court executed the judgment. We have paid the compensation, but he still has an outstanding 260,000 AZN debt to the state for tax evasion. Therefore the government is considering annulling his tax evasion debt, so he can access his frozen funds," stated Asgarov.

The journalist's attorney, Anar Gasimov, says that the alleged tax evasion debt can only be collected under court order.

The journalist's father, Emin Fatullayev, met with his son on 26 April. He told IRFS that the journalist is in good health and that Fatullayev offered his condolences to the family of former MP Anar Mammadkhanov, who was his friend.


BACKGROUND:

On 29 December 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin were reportedly found on Fatullayev in Prison #12. On 6 July 2010, the journalist was found guilty under article 234.1 (possession of narcotics) of the Criminal Code. He began serving a sentence of two years and six months in prison on the same day. His appeal against the conviction was rejected.

Previously, Fatullayev, editor-in-chief of "Realniy Azerbaydjan" and "Gundelik Azerbaycan" newspapers, was sentenced in 2007 to 8.5 years in jail for "threatening terrorism", amongst other charges. However, on 22 April 2010, the ECHR called for his immediate release and financial compensation from the Azerbaijani government (27,800 EUR). The Azerbaijani Supreme Court Plenum has only partially fulfilled the decision.

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