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Supreme Court upholds jail sentence against activist Jabbar Savalanli

(IRFS/IFEX) - 29 November 2011 - Today, the Azerbaijan Supreme Court heard the cassation appeal filed by the arrested youth activist and member of Popular Front Party Jabbar Savalanli. Judge Imran Hajigayibov presided over the hearing. The appeal was filed against the Sumgayit Appeals Court decision of 26 July 2011 to sentence Savalanli to 2.5 years in jail for the possession of illegal drugs.

The youth activist's lawyer, Asabali Mustafayev, and public prosecutor, Mahir Abbasov, were in attendance. Anar Gasimov, another of Savalanli's lawyers, failed to attend due to a business trip. Representatives from British, French and Norwegian embassies, and a number of media representatives observed the court hearing.

Mustafayev said that Savalanli told his mother in a meeting yesterday that he had not received notification which would allow him to attend the court hearing. However, Judge Hajigayibov stated that a notificiation letter had been sent to prison #10, where Savalanli is being held.

Mustafayev also said that Savalanli's arrest was illegal, that his right for defence was violated at the time of arrest, and that his arrest is linked to his political views.
The public prosecutor objected to this and said that at the time of arrest, the state had provided a lawyer for Savalanli, but that he didn't accept the lawyer. After deliberation, Hajigayibov announced that the supreme court would uphold the decision of the appeals court.

Savalanli was arrested on 5 February 2011 and charged with possession of illegal drugs. On 4 May, Sumgayit City Court sentenced Savalanli to 2.5 years in jail. The Sumgayit Appeal Court did not grant the first appeal filed on 26 July 2011. However, local and international human rights organizations believe that the criminal case was a politically motivated response to Savalanli's activities on social networking sites. Amnesty International Organization considers Jabbar Savalanli a prisoner of conscience.

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