Mukhtarli family assigned protection, while lawyer demands the case go to Prosecutor’s Office
Leila Mustafaeva, the wife of Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist who was abducted in Georgia, was summoned to the Tbilisi-based First Police Department. The matter concerned the safety of the Mukhtarli family as well as the witnesses in the case.
The law-enforcement agency has already decided to assign state security guards to protect Leila Mustafaeva and her child. They will also be entitled to use an alert signal. According to Archil Chopikashvili, Afgan Mukhtarli’s Georgian lawyer, a decision on the protection of case witnesses will be made in the near future.
As Leila Mustafaeva told journalists upon leaving the investigative agency, she was going to stay in Georgia so as to closely watch her husband’s case. Also, she fears that Afgan Mukhtarli’s life is at risk in Azerbaijan. According to Mukhtarli’s Georgian lawyer, his lawyer in Azerbaijan wasn’t allowed to see his client.
Archil Chopikashvili insists that the case should be taken to the Prosecutor’s Office. The family suspects that some public officials, namely police officers, were involved in Mukhtarli’s abduction and, therefore, they regarded it as unjustifiable if the Georgian Interior Ministry deals with the case. In the lawyer’s words, the very fact that the case has so far been investigated by the Georgian Interior Ministry indirectly implies that the involvement of the police officers or some other officials has not even been considered.
“Under Georgian legislation, if the matter concerns a police officer or a public official, a case related to an alleged criminal offense falls under the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor’s Office. Also, proceeding from the complexity and importance of the given case, there are many grounds for it to be investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office,” said Archil Chopikashvili.
Chopikashvili’s client, Afgan Mukhtarli, stated earlier thay he had been abducted by individuals in Georgian criminal police uniforms.
Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani opposition journalist and activist, left Azerbaijan in 2014. He moved to Georgia, where he was granted a residence permit. Back in Azerbaijan, he was frequently subjected to governmental pressure due to his journalistic activity. Some of his claims are currently under discussion in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). He has recently been cooperating with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and Meydan.tv.
Afgan Mukhtarli disappeared in Tbilisi late on 29 May 2017, and was later found to have been detained by Azerbaijani law-enforcers. Meanwhile, Mukhtarli claims, he was abducted by Georgian special service officers, who put a bag over his head and transferred him to the Azerbaijani law-enforcers. The Baku court sentenced him to a three-month pre-trial detention for border trespassing, smuggling and resisting law-enforcers. Mukhtarli claims that an amount of EUR 10,000 was placed in his pocket at the border.