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Azerbaijan IFEX member faces prosecution

This statement was originally published on irfs.org on 9 February 2017.

* A private prosecution complaint implies criminal responsibility of a person and may lead to imprisonment;
* The blogger and his lawyer have been served a summons by the court, but not the lawsuit;
* Mehman Huseynov says the accusations by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) are associated with his professional activity.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has filed a private prosecution suit against IRFS Chairman and prominent blogger Mehman Huseynov. As reported by lawyer Elchin Sadigov on 9 February 2017, the complaint has been filed with the Surakhani District Court and is pending before Judge Jeyhun Gadimov. The preliminary hearing on the case was scheduled for 10 February, 10 am. The lawyer added that he would ask for the postponement of the hearing, as the private prosecution complaint had not been served upon them. MIA wants Mehman Huseynov to be prosecuted under Articles 147 (slander) and 148 (insult) of the Criminal Code.

Blogger Mehman Huseynov has told IRFS that although he and his lawyer had been delivered the summons about the hearing, they were not given the statement, so it was unclear what exactly he was being charged with.

Mehman Huseynov added that he believed that, in all cases, the charges would be related to his professional activity.

A private prosecution complaint implies criminal responsibility of a person and may lead to imprisonment.


Background

Mehman Huseynov was detained in the evening hours on 9 January. He was released after being convicted and fined AZN 200 for disobeying a police officer. Following the hearing, Mehman Huseynov told journalists that he was harassed for his professional activities and had been tortured by the police officers.

Following this interview, the Ministry of Internal Affairs filed a petition with the Prosecutor General's Office, noting that Mehman Huseynov had made baseless allegations in his press statements such as about his abduction by the police, illegal restriction of his freedom, and his subjection to torture including physical pain and mental suffering, in order to deceive the public and to undermine the reputation of the police.

"The Ministry of Internal Affairs has filed a petition with the Prosecutor General's Office of the country to give a legal assessment of Mehman Huseynov's act of slandering the police by accusing them of a serious crime. Additional information on the results of the investigation will be published," the Ministry's statement read.

Mehman Huseynov says he has undergone a medical examination in connection with his harassment and injuries sustained. "We filed a complaint with the Baku City Prosecutor's Office due to the tortures inflicted on me, but the prosecutor's office declined to launch a criminal case in this connection," Huseynov added.

Mehman Huseynov is the editor of the popular critical Facebook page Sancaq and the chairman of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS).

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