More than a dozen participants in deadly Ganja protest sentenced to five years in prison
An Azerbaijani court has sentenced fourteen protest participants to 5-8 years in prison on charges of organizing mass riots and resisting police, after two police officers were killed in a street protest in Ganja in July 2018.
The trials of the 14 participants took place in Baku behind closed doors.
Timeline of the events in Ganja
Ganja residents took to the streets on 10 July 2018 in defense of local resident Yunis Safarov, who was badly beaten by police following his 3 July attempt on the life of the city’s mayor, Elmar Valiyev, who was wounded along with his personal guard, but neither were killed.
An estimated 200 people attended the protest. Officials of the Ministry of the Interior say protesters were armed with sharp objects. Police attempted to disperse the protest by force, but the crowd fought back, resulting in the deaths of two policemen.
Three days later, one of the suspects in the murder of police officers was killed while police were trying to take him into custody. The second suspect was arrested. More than a dozen people who were accused of being involved in the protest were also arrested.
Accounts of the events
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that Yunis Safarov and those who protested in his defense are radical Islamists, and that the attempt on Valiyev was an ‘‘attempt to sew discord in the country and to attempt a coup d’état and turn Azerbaijan into an Islamic state”.
Protestors and other Ganja residents claim Elmar Valiyev was rude, cruel and unjust to the city’s citizens, and that the attempt on his life was a legitimate response to state tyranny.
What happened to the others
Elmar Valiyev has since recovered from the attack, but the government has removed him from his post in response to the people’s complaints.
Meanwhile, Yunis Safarov remains in detention pending investigation. Seven other protest participants are still awaiting their verdict.