Noncompliant ex-Health-Minister sentenced to new term of imprisonment in Azerbaijan
Ali Insanov, a co-founder of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, ex-Minister of Health and Heydar Aliyev’s close aide, has been sentenced to a new term in prison. The Baku-based Qaradağ court sentenced the incumbent president’s opponent to 7 years and 5 days of imprisonment in a maximum-security penitentiary facility. This sentence will be added to the first one, amounting to 11 years in prison.
Ali Insanov had fully served his sentence and the public was curiously awaiting his return to big politics. However, as the date of his release approached, some new charges were brought against him, including procurement and storage of psychotropic substances in the correctional facility, where he served his sentence. He was also accused of resisting the prison wardens.
Insanov was arrested on 20 October 2005, 1 month ahead of the first parliamentary election, shortly after Ilham Aliyev was elected as the country’s president. According to the common version, Ilham Aliyev viewed him as a politician who is capable of gaining the support of many Azerbaijanis and migrants from Armenia, who regarded (and some of them still regard) Insanov as their ‘Aqsaqal’ (leader). Insanov himself admitted that 500,000 ‘western Azerbaijanis’ (that’s how migrants and refugees from Armenia are referred to in official mass media) were ready to support him.
Insanov held the post of Health Minister for 12 years (1993-2005). He was very rich and played a remarkable role in setting up the Yeni Azerbaijan part, as well as in bringing Heydar Aliyev into power in June 1993.
“During the announcement of the new verdict, Insanov looked cheerful and was smiling ironically throughout the court hearing,” Turan news agency reported.
“I expected not to be released from prison upon completion of the first term of my sentence, for I didn’t give up and continued my struggle. The only thing that really surprised me was how the prosecutor could speak in such a pathetic manner about far-fetched things,” the defendant said at the court hearing. “Those, who ordered and executed my arrest, as well as those who trumped-up the criminal case, were very primitive, since it was all concocted at the police sergeant’s mindset level.”
In Insanov’s words, the prosecutor insisted on a longer term of imprisonment for him in order to prevent his participation in the presidential election.
Earlier, Insanov made some harsh statements against the incumbent President, Ilham Aliyev. For example, after he had faced new charges, he stated as follows: “Let my hand, with which I supported Ilham Aliyev, wither and drop off! This government has nothing to do with our nation. They disdain our people, equally as people disdain them. That’s the reason why people didn’t support this government in the presidential election. I have gone through all thorns of hell. The cemetery is the only thing left.”
Insanov was put on the Azerbaijani human rights organizations’ political prisoners’ list, released on 17 October 2016.
Togrul Babayev, the ex-Minister’s lawyer, believes that the attitude towards his client is biased, in general.
“Even those who sell kilos of drugs, are not sentenced to 8 years in prison! People, who had committed state coups and murders, were released within 7 years,” the Caucasian Knot quoted the defence lawyer as saying.