The latest victim of the crackdown that the authorities began last summer is the well-known journalist Seymour Khazi, who was sentenced to five years in prison on a trumped-up charge of aggravated hooliganism at the end of a sham trial yesterday.
A reporter for the opposition daily Azadlig and one of the presenters of “Azerbaycan Saati,” a TV programme critical of the government that is broadcast from abroad, he had been in pre-trial detention for the past five months.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the absurdity of this verdict and its tragic consequences.
Khazi (whose full surname is Khaziyev) was arrested on a hooliganism charge on 29 August after defending himself when suddenly attacked by a complete stranger, Maherram Hasanov. After an outcry, Hasanov was also arrested for hooliganism five days later.
At yesterday’s trial, marked by a lack of evidence and many procedural errors, the prosecution requested six years for Khazi and nine months for his assailant, who ended up being sentenced to six months in prison.
Khazi repeatedly denounced the charges as politically motivated. Before the court issued its verdict yesterday, he accused President Ilham Aliyev and chief of staff Ramiz Mehdyev of ordering his arrest.
Outspoken journalists and civil society representatives have been the victims of an unprecedented crackdown since last summer.
On 19 January, Khazi released a letter paying tribute to Azerbaijan’s leading independent journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, who was arrested on 5 December and was being held in a cell just a few metres from his.
Previous releases by Reporters Without Borders on this subject:
- Opposition journalist latest victim in Azerbaijan crackdown
- Imprisoned journalist pays tribute to colleague held in the same jail
(Photo : Radio Azadlig)