Araz Faig oglu GULIYEV

Journalist and Masalli

website editor-in-chief

Guliyev Araz F.

Date of arrest — 9 September 2012

Charged (2000 Criminal Code) —

228.1 — Firearms (Illegal purchase, transfer, selling, storage, transportation and carrying of fire-arms, accessories to it, supplies — smooth-bore hunting weapon and supplies thereof excluded — or explosives);

233 — Public disorder (organizing actions causing violation of public order or active participation in such actions);

283.1 — Fomenting ethnic, etc, hatred (Incitement of national, racial, social or religious hatred and hostility, humiliation of national dignity, as well as restriction of citizens ’ rights, or establishment of the superiority of citizens on the basis of their national, racial or religious background, committed publicly or through use of mass media);

315.2 — Resistance or violence against representative of authority;

324 — Insulting national flag or emblem of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Place of detention — Gobustan Closed Prison

Case summary — Guliyev was the editor-in-chief of an online newspaper based in Masalli. Azerbaijan. The articles published on this website often criticized the government’s policies on religion. as well as social problems of Masalli region. In connection with his activity on this website. Guliyev was repeatedly taken to the police station before his arrest. where he was told to stop his activity. Local executive authorities also warned Guliyev. Two days before his arrest. on 6 September 2012. Guliyev and another Masalli resident. Rza Agali, were detained and beaten by police and plain-clothed persons. then taken to the Masalli Regional Police Department. They were released after an instruction from Deputy Police Chief Alifaga Kazimov at 3:00am.

At about 9:00 pm on 8 September. Guliyev and another Masalli resident, Ziya Tahirov, protested against organization of a disco party in Nizami Park as part of a folklore festival held in Masalli. The two looked for organizers to get additional information about the event to write a critical article. However. the police dismissed them from the area. Two hours later. when Guliyev and Tahirov returned to the scene. they saw that the event had ended and that there was only a police car around the park. The police car approached them. and Deputy Chief Alifaga Kazimov talked to them for about half an hour before they left the area. Afterwards. a group of 25 to 30 plain-clothed persons arrived at the scene. where they started to insult Guliyev and Tahirov and threw stones at them.

Police arrived a little while later and beat and arrested the two men. Guliyev was charged with hooliganism and resisting a police officer. Eleven days after the journalist’s arrest, on 20 September. his house was searched. After the search. it was claimed that a grenade was found in the house. In December 2012. Guliyev was charged with publishing articles on the online newspaper containing religious enmity, violation of public order, weapon possession, and desecration of the national flag.

Sentence — The journalist was sentenced to 8 years in jail on 5 April 2013 by the Lankaran Court of Grave Crimes. The Shirvan Court of Appeal upheld the judgment on 9 January 2014. Supreme Court upheld the sentence on 4 July 2014 without any change as well.


Commentary — The journalist’s house was searched without a court decision and without the journalist’s presence. The court investigation revealed that Nahid Shiraliyev, one of the search witnesses, could not read or write (although he had signed the search protocol confirming that a grenade had been found). In the Shirvan Court of Appeal, Shiraliyev stated that he and his colleague were taken from a labour-market (a place where freelance workers gather waiting for jobs) by police officers to witness a search. He says that they each received 20 AZN for their efforts. None of the claimed victims confronted Guliyev during the investigation. Most of them were police officers, and they all gave the same testimony in the trial. In fact, there was no evidence to support the alleged injury to the police officers. The national flag that was claimed to have been torn was not in the case file as evidence.

Guliyev was transferred to prison No. 14 after the Shirvan Court of Appeal delivered its judgment.

On 22 December 2014, inmates in prison No. 14 protested against the death of inmate Elshad Babayev. Specifically, there were reports about Babayev’s death as a result of torture and deprivation of food and water. His sister Simuzar Babayeva took photos of her brother’s body, showing clear signs of violence. Nonetheless, the criminal case opened on this fact claimed that Elshad Babayev, 31, died of heart failure. Guliyev was also among the protesting inmates. As a result, he was placed in a single cell and tortured. Following this incident, the prison management turned to court requesting his transfer to a prison with a tougher regime.

On March 19, 2015, Garadagh District Court ruled to keep him in Gobustan Closed Prison for the //remaining 3 years of his sentence.

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