Azerbaijan: Supreme Court Rejected Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s Appeal
(06.12.2011) Today, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan chaired by Imran Hajibayov considered the appeal of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, the imprisoned youth activist and blogger. In May this year he was sentenced to two years of imprisonment on charges of evading military service. However, many international organizations have voiced their concerns that the charges were manufactured to punish Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, a Harvard graduate who returned to Azerbaijan in 2010 to challenge the Aliyev regime and participate in the parliamentary elections of November 2010. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev intended to leave Azerbaijan after the end of the parliamentary elections. However, the border service of Azerbaijan repeatedly blocked his attempts to leave the country until the Azerbaijani authorities came up with the “military service evasion” charges against Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and put him in jail.
The Supreme Court’s hearings were open to public. Turan News Agency reported that the judge said Bakhtiyar Hajiyev did not want to participate in the trial. However, Hajiyev’s lawyer Sadig Bagirov said his client wanted to participate in the hearings and such a telegram was sent to court yesterday. The lawyer asked if the court received the telegram. The judge’s answer was "Do you think that a telegram you sent yesterday could reach us today?"
The lawyer presented his arguments on the appeal and made three motions. The first motion requested that the Constitutional Court made a declarative judgment clarifying the compliance of the law on military service with the Azerbaijani Constitution. The motion has a certain significance because the Azerbaijani Constitution allows Azerbaijani citizens to make a choice of alternative service, whereas the law on military service has not provided any provision on alternative service. The whole “military service evasion”
charge against Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is based on the fact that Bakhtiyar Hajiyev refuses to go to military service and demands to do the alternative service using his right reflected in the Azerbaijani Constitution.
The second motion demanded to admit that Hajiyev’s due prosess rights were violated. In particular, his arrest solely based on the evidence from the police and without any hearings was illegal.
The lawyer also demanded to admit the violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting torture. The lawyer said after the arrest Hajiyev was tortured. He reminded that the Attorney General refused to file a lawsuit on the fact that Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was tortured when he was in police custody.
The judge asked whether Hajiyev’s choice to have alternative service was based on his religious views. Hajiyev’s lawyer responded that Hajiyev was Muslim, his choice was not based on his religious convictions and that the text of the Azerbaijani Constitution had no requirements on basing the choice of an alternative service on the religious beliefs. Bagirov said Hajiyev was being persecuted for his political activities. The lawyer requested that the court cleared Hajiyev of all charges against him.
The public prosecutor Mahir Abbas said the law on military service did not provide for an alternative service and that the country was living under the conditions of an undeclared war with Armenia. The public prosecutor requested to deny all the motions of the defense and affirm Hajiyev’s conviction.
The Supreme Court judge declared that Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s appeal was rejected.
Commenting on the verdict, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s lawyer said the court’s verdict was predictable and that it was impossible to expect any other verdict from this court. Hajiyev’s lawyer said since it is impossible to achieve justice in Azerbaijani courts he intended to seek justice in the European Court of Human Rights.
Azeri Report: Supreme Court of Azerbaijan Rejected Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s Appeal. December 6, 2011. Source: http://azerireport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3415&Itemid=42