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Writer-journalist Rafig Tagi dies in hospital days after violent knife attack

(IRFS/IFEX) - November 24, 2011 - The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety condemns the Azerbaijani government's indifference to journalism and freedom of the press that contributed to the death of writer-journalist Rafig Tagi on November 23, the International Day to End Impunity.

Writer-journalist Rafig Tagi was the victim of a violent knife attack near his home as he was returning from work on the evening of November 19. He suffered six stab wounds to the chest and torso and underwent seven hours of surgery. On November 21, Tagi was removed from the intensive care unit and transferred to the general ward. He was apparently left on his own in the hospital without appropriate medical or security supervision. Only on November 23 were police officers allocated to his ward by the Interior Ministry. On the same day, at about 3:35pm, his health suddenly deteriorated and he passed away. According to the forensic examination, his death was caused by complications from injuries to his abdomen. Tagi had been sufficiently stable on November 21 and 22 that he had given interviews to several mass media outlets and was able to talk to visitors.

IRFS believes that if the journalist had been supplied with the necessary treatment after surviving the assassination attempt, he could have been saved. However, in the days following the attack, an indifferent approach was demonstrated by the hospital staff and government authorities.

IRFS believes that Tagi was murdered for his journalistic work.

On November 23, the International Day to End Impunity, journalists and supporters around the world protested against the murders of their colleagues. The death of a journalist in Azerbaijan on this day reveals that the situation of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan has deteriorated to a terrible and dangerous extent. Thus far, nobody has been charged with either Tagi's murder, or the murder of "Monitor Magazine" editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov, shot dead on his doorstep six years ago.

IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government to bring those responsible to justice and end the impunity with which attacks on journalists are carried out today in Azerbaijan.

IRFS calls on the international community to maintain focus on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and demonstrate solidarity with Azerbaijani journalists.

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