Imprisoned (2013): Hilal Mammadov

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

FOCUS: Minority rights, in particular Talysh rights, Mammadov has been a fierce critic of the government, particularly of governmental discrimination against non-Turkic minority groups in Azerbaijan.

ARRESTED: 21 June, 2012 in Baku.

CHARGE: Drug possession (Article 234.4.3 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code). On 3 July 2012, the editor’s lawyer, Anar Gasimli, announced that Mammadov had been charged with the additional crime of high treason (Article 274) and inciting hatred based on nationality, ethnicity, social status or religion (Article 283.2).

CONVICTED: On September 27, 2013, Mammadov was sentenced to five years in prison.

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. “Didn’t he know how it could end up?” the law enforcement official is alleged to have asked.

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 at the Shuvalan preliminary investigative detention centre. On September 10, 2012, Mammadov asked to serve the subsequent term under house arrest; this was rejected and his detention was extended. Mammadov was reportedly beaten on multiple occasions while in pre-trial detention.

CURRENT STATUS: Imprisoned

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Talysh are a minority group who mostly live in the southern regions of Azerbaijan near the Iranian border. Tolishi Sedo is the only Talysh-language newspaper in Azerbaijan, and one that has become notorious for the reprisals faced by its employees. 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 25/03/2015.

Picture courtesy of www.talish.info.