Four Azerbaijani activists to receive thousands in compensation for unjust arrest
The Azerbaijani government is to pay four civilian activists EUR 96 thousand in compensation for an illegal pre-trial detention which took place in 2013. The ruling was made by The European Court of Human Rights after receiving complaints submitted by the activists.
“In general, the court found that the materials relied on by the national authorities did not meet the minimum standards of the Convention … there was a violation of the applicants’ rights,” the court said.
Given this and other circumstances, the court ruled that the applicants be compensated EUR 20 000 each for moral damage including their legal expenses (EUR 16 000 Euros in total).
In 2013, Rashad Hasanov, Zaur Gurbanli, Uzeir Mammadov and Rashadat Akhundov, as well as four other members of the Nida civil movement were charged with organizing riots. This happened just after Nida activists organized a series of rallies to draw attention to social problems.
At the time of the arrest, there was no direct evidence of their guilt except for 22 bottles of liquid seized from the defendants which the investigators took for Molotov cocktails. However, the investigators determined that a combustible substance was present in only two of the bottles. The activists were accused of illegal storage of explosives and in May 2014 were sentenced from six to eight years in prison.
Almost all of them were pardoned years later by presidential decree, except for Ilkin Rustamzade who is still in prison.
The ‘Molotov cocktails’ did not only cause outrage and trials, but also jokes, after MP Siyavush Novruzov, one of the leaders of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, called the incendiary mixture ‘Molotov’s Cutlet’ in one of his speeches. The rock band DədəBaba wrote a song that became a hit on social networks on the theme. The musicians even offered a recipe for ‘Molotov’s Cutlets’ – a regular kebab recipe, but with the addition of beets.