On Trial: Hilal Mammadov

ROLE: Editor-in-chief of the Talysh-language Tolishi Sedo newspaper and consultant of the Institute for Peace and Democracy.

ARRESTED: 21 June 2012 in Baku.

CHARGE: Drug possession (Article 234.4.3 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code). On 3 July the editor’s lawyer, Anar Gasimli, announced that Mammadov had been charged with the additional crime of high treason (Article 274) and inciting hatrest based on nationality, ethnicity, social status or religion (Article 283.2).

CONVICTED: Faces up to 12 years’ imprisonment if convicted of drug possesion, and potentially life imprisonment for the additional charge of treason.

CASE DETAILS: Mammadov was arrested on 21 June 2012 by officers of the Nasimi District Police Department. Police allegedly found heroin during a search of Mammadov’s apartment, and he was subsequently charged with drug possession. During the search, one of the police officers reportedly asked Mammadov’s father why his son defended the Talysh people, as “didn’t he know how it could end up?”.

Mammadov denies the allegations of drug possession and said he believes he has been targeted for political reasons. The Ministry of Internal Affairs denied that Mammadov’s detention is politically motivated and stated that he was arrested because he had committed a crime. Mammadov was reportedly beaten in custody and photos documenting this abuse have been sent to the Nizami District Prosecutor.

On 23 June 2012 the Nizami District Court sentenced Mammadov to three months’ pre-trial detention. He remains in custody at the Shuvalan preliminary investigative detention centre.

CURRENT STATUS: A preparatory meeting for the trial of Hilal Mammadov was held on 08 January 2013 at the Serious Crimes Court in Baku. As of March 2012, the trial is contiuing as a closed trial.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Tolishi Sedo is the only Talysh-language newspaper in Azerbaijan. The Talysh are a minority group who mostly live in the southern regions of Azerbaijan near the Iranian border. A previous editor-in-chief of Tolishi Sedo, Novruzali Mammadov, died in prison in 2010 while serving a 10-year sentence on politically motivated charges of high treason. Hilal Mammadov served as the head of Novruzali Mammadov’s defence committee.

Compiled by ARTICLE 19 from a variety of sources. Current as of 27/03/2013.

Picture courtesy of www.talish.info.