Aquarium and the magic button
This video was released on the day of Khadija’s arrest – on December 5, 2014. Baku-based Sabail District Court imposed a two-month pre-trial detention as a restraint measure , having charged her pursuant to article ‘incitement to suicide’ . This video was published on the day of the arrest. This video shows Elton Guliyev, a lawyer, saying Khadija links her arrest to her professional activity and that he is going to appeal the court ruling. Then this charge was dropped, but some other charged appeared…
Baku Court of Appeal (BAC) considered a petition, lodged by journalist Khadija Ismayilova, sentenced to 7.5 years on the charges of illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, misappropriation, embezzlement and abuse of official power. Ismayilova denied charges, saying her investigation into Aliyev family property was the reason for her arrest and conviction.
Consideration of the appeal petition was held under the chairmanship of Judge Ilgar Murguzov.
Khadija Ismayilova, herself, was in high spirits. She was smiling during the trial. In the beginning and at the end of the court session, she waved her hand to all her friends, sending kisses and congratulating her friend, who was sitting in the courtroom, on her birthday.
More than fifty people – journalist’s relatives, representatives of Mass Media and civil society, as well as the U.S. and German embassy officials, came to the Appeal Court building to observe Khadija Ismayilova’s trial. But only 30 people, including foreign diplomats, were allowed to enter the building. The rest stayed outside the BAC building until the end of the court session.
Once again, those, willing to observe the trial, were first led into one BAC hall, then into another hall, where Ismayilova was already sitting in the glass cage – ‘aquarium’.
At the beginning of the trial, lawyer Fariz Namazly petitioned to allow Khadija Ismayilova to sit next to the defenders. However, prosecutor Abbas Abbasly opposed it. The judge did not sustain the petition, citing ‘international practice’ and ‘Ismayilova’s security reasons.
Khadija Ismayilova, in turn, asked for confidential consultations with her lawyers, demanding from judge to ensure that guards would not listen to their conversation with the defenders.
The judge announced a 10-minute break.
Khadija’s much-publicized case has caused a lively response on part of the freedom of expression activists. Khadija is a record-holder among Azerbaijan’s prisoners of conscience by the number of petitions and court trial caricatures
When the lawyers Fariz Namazly, Javad Javadov and Fakhraddin Mehdiyev entered the glass cage, a bailiff, who held the rank of sergeant, stood at the door inside the ‘aquarium’. After Khadija Ismayilova’s remarks, the bailiff, holding the rank of lieutenant, told the sergeant: ‘Look there, but do not listen to them.’ This made the audience laugh.
When the court session resumed, Khadija Ismayilova said, she had something to orally add to the petition. ‘The court verdict reads that since I possess no assets, nothing will be confiscated. Honestly, I felt bad about it. The country is in critical situation, oil prices dropped, so I decided to voluntarily report about my property that can be confiscated, ‘- sarcastically said the defendant.
She further noted that she owned a mansion in the prestigious district of London. However, the judge interrupted Ismayilova and told her to speak on the merits. When the defendant tried to proceed on the issue, the judge turned off her microphone and the audience could not hear Ismayilova. ‘There is no confiscation of property in your regard. So, speak to the point. Do not stage a show here,’ – said judge Murguzov.
Khadija Ismayilova has been honored with 2015 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award
Then things developed under a predictable scenario. Ismayilova’s lawyers talked about violations during the investigation and absurdity of charges. They demanded release of Khadija Ismayilova. When Khadija was given the floor, the judge actively used the ‘magic’ button, turning off her microphone and demanding ‘to speak on the merits.’
Khadija Ismayilova stated about partiality of the judicial investigation conducted by Baku Court of Grave Crimes. ‘They’d rather establish, whether the offences had been committed at all. The truth is that I was arrested for the editorial activities, for the investigation into the business of Ilham Aliyev and his family members. If I had been told this right away, I would not have filed this petition at all,’ – said Ismayilova.
The judge again interrupted her and demanded to speak to the point. In response, the journalist said that she was speaking to the point. ‘Though the 16-volume case reads about misappropriation, but it has not been found out, what exactly was misappropriated by me,’ – said Ismayilova, claiming that London property did not belong to her, but rather to the senior daughter of President Ilham Aliyev, Leila. The judge interrupted the journalist and she was not given the floor any more.
Public prosecutor, Abbas Abbasly, said the charges against Ismayilova had been confirmed and asked to uphold the verdict of the first instance court.
The petition was dismissed and the verdict of the court of first instance was upheld unchanged.
The European Games in Baku gave one more reason to draw attention to the journalist-prisoners