In Azerbaijan, son of opposition politician arrested for road accident
Arif Hajila’s son arrested
Opposition politician Arif Hajili states that the arrest of his son because of a traffic accident was used by the Azerbaijani authorities as a means of pressuring him. Video of the accident was disseminated in social networks and government media. The video recorded by surveillance cameras shows the collision of two cars. Neither of the drivers was injured.
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On November 2, Orhan Hajili, son of Musavat Party leader Arif Hajili, was sentenced to two months in prison. This was reported by his lawyer Nemat Kerimli. The lawyer said that his client was charged under Articles 263 (violation of traffic rules and operation of vehicles) and 264 (hiding from the scene of a road accident) of the Criminal Code.
“He does not agree with the charges. Orhan told the court that the car ahead of him suddenly made an illegal left turn, which caused the accident. He says his arrest was a political decision. There will be an appeal against the decision,” he told Abzas Media.
Musavat party member Mustafa Hajibeyli, Orhan Hajila’s uncle, said the Azerbaijani government made the decision in order to put pressure on Arif Hajila and the party as a whole:
“Injustice and disenfranchisement are at an unprecedented level even by the standards of Azerbaijan. As a rule, people are not arrested for road accidents. Moreover, another person is to blame for this road accident. There are no casualties and victims. This decision is based on false accusations”.
First, a video of the crash was circulated
Hajili was detained by police officers on October 31. A few days ago, a number of pro-government media circulated video footage of a traffic accident that took place on Huseyn Javid Avenue of Yasamal district of Baku. The video shows that the Honda car driven by Hajili collided with a car maneuvering in front of him while driving and crashed into another car parked in the same area.
After pro-government media actively circulated the video, Arif Hajili claimed that the incident was deliberately exaggerated. He stated that his son was punished because of his father’s political activities.
“The victim was found 15 to 20 days after the incident.”
Although none of the drivers were injured in the accident, one person was later recognized as a victim in the criminal case. According to the investigation materials, this person was there at the time of the accident and was injured.
“From the distributed video it is clear that the other car suddenly made a left maneuver in front of Orhan Hajili, and the investigation did not investigate this moment. A second question arises: why did the ‘victim’ appear 15-20 days after the accident?”, lawyer Nemat Kerimli asks.
The lawyer considers preventive measure for Hajili unreasonable:
“They say that the driver’s property was damaged, so Hajili could run away and hide. However, the damage was compensated. Therefore the court’s decision is absurd.”
A human rights activist said the arrest was politically motivated
Human rights activist Rufat Safarov also considers the decision unfair. He told Meydan TV that he has been following the developments since the incident and that this is not a legal but a political arrest:
“Orhan Hajili is accused of an incident that did not cause great public danger, he is accused of inflicting light injuries and allegedly fleeing the scene. The most severe punishment for this act is up to 2 years’ imprisonment. Under article 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, pretrial detention is usually ordered in cases involving deprivation of liberty for more than 2 years. If it is a crime committed by negligence, it would be advisable to hand it over to police control, and to obtain a receipt for non-departure.”
Not the first case when children of opposition politician arrested for traffic accident
This is not the first case of politicians’ children being held criminally liable after road accidents in Azerbaijan.
In 2012, Nigar Hazi, daughter of Tofig Yagublu, who was deputy chairman of the Musavat Party at the time, was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison after a fatal car accident.
Gunel Hasanli, the daughter of former opposition presidential candidate Jamil Hasanli, was sentenced in 2015 to 1 year and 6 months of arrest for an accident that occurred in 2014. The court made this decision despite the fact that the person recognized as the victim in that accident was not the plaintiff. In March 2017, she was released under an amnesty.