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Youth activist's appeal rejected

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 29 December 2011, the Garadagh Regional Court, under Judge Rashad Mustafayev, rejected an appeal to replace youth activist and prisoner of conscience Bakhtiyar Hajiyev's detention with conditional arrest. The court proceeding should have been held in the Garadagh Regional Court. It was, however, conducted instead at Prison #14. The defendant, who demanded that the hearing be open to the public, refused to attend.

The head of the activist's defence team, Hajiyev Intigam Aliyev, said the hearing was held without lawyers for the youth activist present, thus violating Hajiyev's rights. "We supported holding an open hearing, with the presence of media representatives. I believe this decision was unfair, and we will be taking the case to the Appeals Court," he said.

Hajiyev was arrested on 4 March and, on 18 May, the Nizami Regional Court in Ganja sentenced him to two years in jail under Article 321.1 (evading military service) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The decision was subsequently upheld by two higher level courts.

It is widely believed that Hajiyev was arrested for his activities on social networking sites and his support of the 11 March Great People's Day campaign.

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