Opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov remained in prison for four years after the ECHR demanded his immediate release
The European Court of Human Rights says Azerbaijan is guilty of violating international human rights law.
The statement refers to the case of Ilgar Mammadov – the leader of the opposition Republican Alternative (ReAl) party. Mammadov was held in prison for four years after the European Court of Human Rights found his case to be politically motivated and demanded his release.
The Mammadov case
Ilgar Mammadov, the leader of ReAl , was going to run for president in Azerbaijan in 2013, however he was arrested after a trip to the city of Ismayilli in the north of the country, where at the time there was social unrest.
Initially, Mammadov was charged with organizing these riots and resisting the police, and later the first charge was replaced with a more serious one: the organization of mass riots, accompanied by arson and pogroms.
In 2014, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
In the same year 2014, the ECHR recognized his imprisonment as illegal and demanded he be released and freed of all charges, but the Azerbaijani authorities did not do this.
Ilgar Mammadov spent almost five years in prison and was released in July 2018.
Thus, Azerbaijan, in fact, ignored the decision of the ECHR.
A new case against Azerbaijan could threaten the country with sanctions, up to exclusion from the Council of Europe.
Ilgar Mammadov himself on his Facebook page commented on the decision of the European Humanitarian Policy Commission: “The requirement of the court to FULLY restore the legal status that I had before my arrest means that I can be a candidate in both parliamentary and presidential elections.”
Why only now?
Such an accusation of the ECHR against the state is an unprecedented case.
And many in Azerbaijan are wondering why the European Court did this only right now, although there was enough reason to do so before.
JAMnews political analyst Shahin Rzayev answers this question:
“One of several reasons may be a change in the foreign policy of Azerbaijan. More precisely, disappointment in Europe and increased sympathy for Russia. Accordingly, the reaction of Europe has become more rigid. Earlier, election fraud and the violation of human rights was reacted to with statements that bore in mind that Azerbaijan, after all, was an alternative resource base: now they have begun to apply legal leverage, so the issue may reach sanctions.”