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Azerbaijan: Criminal proceedings against detained human rights defender Mr Bahtyar Mamedov
On 30 October 2012, the hearing into the case of Mr Bahtyar Mamedov will take place at the Court of Grave Crimes in Baku, on the charge of alleged swindle.
Bahtyar Mamedov is a defender of property rights and the legal representative of Baku inhabitants whose houses have been demolished. It is believed that the criminal case against Bahtyar Mamedov is aimed at preventing him from interfering with corrupt interests.
From June 2011 onward, evictions of the local population took place in Baku near Flag Square. Their properties were destroyed to make way for the construction of a new highway built for the Eurovision Song Contest of May 2012. The inhabitants were offered an unfair rate of financial compensation although the amount of such compensation had been defined by governmental decision. In August 2011, the inhabitants of the area signed a contract with Bahtyar Mamedov allowing him to defend their interests and to represent them in court.
Bahtyar Mamedov was first accused of extorting money using threats from a military unit commander, Mr Shahin Sultanov. The criminal case was opened under Article 182.3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan (“Extortion, accompanied by violence”) and on 30 December 2011, the Sabailovsky district court in Baku ordered Bahtyar Mamedov to be placed in pre-trial detention for three months. During this period of time, the Investigative Committee of Sabailovsky district of Baku failed to find proof supporting these charges and opened a new criminal investigation under Article 178.1 of the Criminal Code (“Swindle”).
Despite the fact that Bahtyar Mamedov has now spent seven months in pre-detention, to date the investigative team has failed to question the victim of the alleged swindle, Mr Sultanov, who is simply ignoring the summons issued to him. Moreover, on 15 October 2012, Mr Sultanov sent a letter to the Court of Grave Crimes which is hearing this case, stating that he does not know Bahtyar Mamedov. Despite this declaration, the criminal case was not closed and the human rights defender continues to be held in detention. The latest hearing in this case is scheduled to take place on 30 October 2012.