Blogger Lapshin’s trial commences in Baku
The first court hearing in the case of Alexander Lapshin has commenced in the Baku-based Court on Grave Crimes, on 22 June. The Russian blogger is charged with trespassing the state border without proper documentation and for violating Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
It was a preparatory session, attended by officials from the embassies of Israel, Ukraine and Russia in Azerbaijan. As for human rights defenders, Saida Gojamanli and Saadat Bananyarli, the monitoring group activists, were the only ones allowed to attend the hearing. No independent media figures were allowed into the courtroom.
After a break, judge Alovsat Abbasov scheduled the first session of the main trial for 30 June.
Eduard Chernin, the blogger’s lawyer, didn’t file a petition for changing the restraint measure for his client. “Well, let’s reason logically: he has no place of residence in Azerbaijan – there is nowhere he could stay. His health condition is said to be normal, he is under permanent medical supervision and he is staying in the medical center at the pre-trial detention facility,” the Kavkazski Uzel media outlet quoted Lapshin’s lawyer, referring to an anonymous participant in the court session.
When asked whether Lapshin pleaded guilty or not, Chernin answered that he pleaded ‘partially guilty’, since he did travel to Nagorno-Karabakh violating Azerbaijani laws. However, the lawyer added that his client just wanted to familiarize himself with the situation there and that he respected the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan – Turan news agency reports.
Alexander Lapshin, a Russian blogger, was arrested in Belarus in December 2016, by Azerbaijan’s request. He was extradited to Baku on 7 February this year. Charges against Lapshin were brought under two articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan: trespassing the state border and anti-state calls. If convicted, he could face up to eight years in prison.
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