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Azerbaijan: Mr Hilal Mamedov, editor in chief of Tolishi Sado arrested and charged with possession and distribution of heroin
Mr Hilal Mamedov was arrested on 21 June and charged for alleged possession of heroin.
Hilal Mamedov is a consultant with the Institute for Democracy and Peace and editor in chief of Tolishi Sado (Talysh Voice), the only newspaper in the Talysh minority language. He was also the head of the Committee for the Defence of Novruzali Mamedov, a prominent Talysh scientist and human rights activist charged in June 2008 with espionage in favour of Iran and subsequently sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Novruzali Mamedov died as a result of torture in prison in 2010.
At approximately 10 am on 21 June, Hilal Mamedov left home to visit a relative in hospital. He called home at 11 am and said that he would be home in 30 minutes. He then disappeared. From 2 to 3.30 pm, when relatives tried to call, his mobile phone was answered by an unfamiliar male voice who said that Hilal Mamedov was under medical observation and would return home when the doctor finished examining him. At 4.20 pm his brother called from Moscow. The person who answered the phone informed him that Hilal Mamedov was under arrest, without giving any further explanations. After that, Hilal Mamedov's mobile phone was turned off.
In the evening of 21 June, 20 police officers arrived to the home of Hilal Mamedov in order to carry out a search, following which they claimed they had found heroin. His colleagues believe that this accusation and alleged discovery is completely unfounded, and no evidence was provided for the accusation. One of the policeman reportedly asked Hilal Mamedov's father: “Why was your son defending Talysh people? Did he not know how it can end up?”
Hilal Mamedov's lawyer went to the Nizami Police Department in Baku to see his client, but was denied access and was not provided with case-file details relating to the arrest. However, he was told that the police had found Hilal Mamedov carrying 5 grams of heroin on him and that much more (approx 28g) had been found at his home.
The following day, 22 June, Hilal Mamedov was brought before the Nizami District Court, which authorised a pre-trial detention for a period of three months in order to complete the investigation on possession and distribution of drugs. Art. 234 of the Criminal Code, under which he was charged, carries a penalty of 5 to 12 years of imprisonment. The court rejected the lawyer's application to release Hilal Mamedov, but accepted a complaint of ill treatment, documented in photographs. The complaint was sent to the prosecutor of the Nizami district of Baku. Hilal Mamedov is currently detained in the Shuvalan preliminary investigation prison.
At the time of his arrest in February 2008, prominent Talysh scientist and human rights defender Novruzali Mamedov was also editor of “Talysh Voice” newspaper and head of the Talysh Cultural Centre. He was charged with espionage for Iran, and tortured to death in prison in 2010 (see https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/2129).
Front Line Defenders condemns the prosecution of Halil Mamedov and believes that the charges brought against him are directly linked to his legitimate human rights work. We are extremely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Hilal Mamedov.