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Azerbaijan: UPDATE- Court rejects human rights defender Hilal Mamedov's complaint of ill-treatment
On 29 August 2012, the Nasimi District Court of Baku denied human rights defender Mr Hilal Mamedov's appeal against a previous court decision rejecting his complaint of ill-treatment in detention.
The hearing was expected to be open to the public; however, Judge Emin Mehdiyev decided that it should be held in camera and moved it to the basement, meaning that the journalists and members of the committee established for the protection of Hilal Mamedov's rights who were present could not attend.
The hearing lasted just 30 minutes, and the court took over three hours to announce a verdict rejecting the complaint. The complaint was based on Hilal Mamedov's claim that he was given no food or water during his first two days in detention. The human rights defender's lawyer also has photographic evidence of leg injuries sustained by Hilal Mamedov in detention.
Hilal Mamedov was arrested on 21 June 2012 and charged with illegal possession of narcotics. On 3 July, he was also charged with “high treason“ and “incitement of national, racial or religious hatred” under Articles 274 and 283.2.2 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.
Hilal Mamedov is a consultant with the Institute for Democracy and Peace and editor-in-chief of Tolishi Sado (Talysh Voice), the only newspaper in the Talysh minority language. He was also the head of the Committee for the Defence of Novruzali Mamedov, a prominent Talysh scientist and human rights activist charged in June 2008 with espionage and subsequently sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Novruzali Mamedov died as a result of torture in prison in 2010.
Front line Defenders condemns the rejection of Hilal Mamedov's complaint and believes that the decision to hold the hearing in camera was taken for the sole reason of denying impartial observers access to the hearing. Front Line Defenders reiterates its call on the Azerbaijani authorities to drop all charges against Hilal Mamedov and to effect his immediate and unconditional release.
For further information on this case, please see the Front Line Defenders urgent appeal, dated 25 June 2012: Mr Hilal Mamedov, editor in chief of Tolishi Sado arrested and charged with possession and distribution of heroin, and the subsequent update, dated 4 July 2012: Additional charges of high treason and espionage brought against Hilal Mamedo.