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Azerbaijan: Update – Physical attack on human rights defender Mr Hilal Mamedov while in custody
On 29 November 2012, human rights defender Mr Hilal Mamedov was physically attacked in prison by his cell mate. Over the two weeks leading up to the incident, the defender has had trouble sleeping due to the aggressive and inappropriate behaviour of his cell mate, who has a mental disability. Repeated requests by Hilal Mamedov's lawyer to have the inmate moved to another cell were ignored by the prison authorities.
Hilal Mamedov is curently in pre-trial detention in Kurdakhani investigative prison. He was arrested on 21 June 2012 and accused of possession of heroin, something the defender vehemently denies and for which no evidence has been presented. Since then, he has further been charged with high treason due to alleged espionage for Iran and with incitement of national, racial or religious hatred.
Hilal Mamedov is a consultant with the Institute for Peace and Democracy and had recently become editor of the newspaper Tolishi Sado (Talysh Voice), the only newspaper published in the Talysh minority language of southern Azerbaijan and nothern Iran, before his arrest. The newspaper had not been published since the previous editor, human rights defender Novruzali Mamedov, was arrested and also charged with espionage. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and died in prison as a result of torture in June 2009. Hilal Mamedov was head of the Committee for the Defence of Novruzali Mamedov.
Front Line Defenders remains deeply worried for the physical and psychological integrity and security of Hilal Mamedov and reiterates its call on the Azerbaijani authorities to drop the charges against him immediately and consequently release him, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by Hilal Mamedov's legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.