The accused says he was ‘protecting public order’
A former policeman is being tried for extortion in Baku, Azerbaijan. The plaintiff, Ulvi Akhundzade, says Shaban Mammadov tried to extort money from him and his fiancée as they were having a walk in the park, writes report.az.
Akhundzade says that Mammadov beat him and then took 100 AZN from him [about $60].
Akhundzade appealed to the police, and a month later the offender was found. He returned the money and appeared in court.
The defendant’s case
Shaban Mammadov says he did in fact approach the couple in a park. He introduced himself as a policeman and asked why the two young people were sitting side by side on a bench.
He asked whether the girl’s parents were aware of their relationship. After that, Mammadov says, Akhundzade allegedly offered him 100 AZN to ensure his ‘silence’.
The defendant claims that he was “protecting public order”. He is being charged with posing as an employee of the police and engaging in extortion.
How could such a crime even have taken place?
Azerbaijani laws do not forbid couples to hold hands, cuddle or kiss on the street. However, such behavior in public can evoke the ire of more conservative-minded citizens.
Moreover, in many Azerbaijani families, extra-marital visits are considered impermissible, and it is a large risk for a woman if her family finds out. Men, in turn, do not want to have the police called on them.
Using this dynamic, some ‘hunt’ for young couples in love and extort money from them, threatening to take them to the police station or tell the girl’s parents that she is dating a man.
Sometimes young people prefer to pay off such individuals instead of standing up for their rights.