Azerbaijani Popular Front Party Deputy Chairperson sentenced to three years in prison
Gozal Bayramli, the Deputy Chairperson of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), has been sentenced to three years in prison. The Gazakh district court rendered the verdict on the night of 23 January.
Bayramli was found guilty of smuggling undeclared money amounting to USD 12 000 through customs control. The defendant and her lawyers claimed that the aforesaid sum was planted on her.
Gozal Bayramli was arrested on 25 May 2017 while returning from Georgia.
As she stated at the trial on 5 January, her arrest had been planned in advance. Special services were also involved in the operation as well as the State Border Guard Service officers. She claimed her arrest was coordinated with the country’s political leadership.
The day before her last trip to Georgia, pro-governmental media published a series of articles saying that she and Afghan Mukhtarli (a journalist who was recently convicted in Azerbaijan) as well as some other individuals allegedly held meetings with representatives of international organizations in Georgia and had provided funding for the opposition.
Ali Karimli, the APFP Chairman sharply criticized Bayramli’s case.
“The court executed Ilham Aliyev’s order. The authorities got fed up with the female politician and they defamed her. They failed to respond to her harsh criticism in a well-argued manner, because everything she said was true and fact-based. There is nothing they can put up against her organizational skills, because she is supported by the people. So the only way out for them was to wrongfully accuse the woman and put her in chains,” Karimli wrote on his Facebook page.
Stefan Schennach, a co-rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also condemned Gozal Bayramli’s sentence.
‘May I wonder why? I am concerned about the trial; her arrest was a mistake, and the rule of law was not respected,” Schennach commented on his Twitter feed.