Azerbaijani court convicts football coach for joining Karabakh war rally
A court has sentenced Mehdi Ibrahimov, who was detained in July 2020 during a rally calling for war in Karabakh, to a one year and three month conditional sentence.
Ibrahimov was allegedly convicted due to the opposition activities of his family members.
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In July 12-16, 2020, the situation on the border of Azerbaijan with Armenia in the direction of the Tovuz region worsened. As a result of the fighting, according to official data, the Azerbaijani side lost 12 servicemen and one civilian, while the Armenian side lost six servicemen. Dozens of people were injured on both sides.
On the night of July 14-15, residents of Baku took to the streets to support the army in the battles. Law enforcement officers detained several dozen protesters.
Some of the detainees were soon released, but 45 people were arrested, mainly members and supporters of the opposition Popular Front of Azerbaijan (PFPA) party. One of them was Mehdi Ibrahimov.
According to his younger brother, an activist of the PFPA youth organization Turan Ibrahim, unlike him and his father, (who is the adviser to the PFPA chairman), Mehdi Ibrahimov has nothing to do with political activities:
“My elder brother Mehdi has nothing to do with politics and has no affiliation with the PFPA. He is a football coach. During the Karabakh march, he joined the rally, noting that the police were not interfering in what was happening. He did not give in to provocations. In the morning, when he was returning home, he was beaten and detained on the territory of the boulevard and taken to the 37th police station. Over 100 people who were detained with him were released. When they saw my father’s name in my brother’s explanatory note, they didn’t release him”, Turan Ibrahim wrote on social media.
Mehdi Ibrahimov was accused of violating quarantine rules and a measure of restraint was taken against him in the form of arrest for four months.
While in custody, Ibrahimov began a hunger strike, and his lawyer filed a lawsuit to replace the measure of restraint with house arrest.
In August 2020, the court satisfied the lawyer’s claim.
Relatives and supporters of Mehdi Ibrahimov say the decision to arrest him is aimed at putting pressure on his family members.