Date of arrest – 8 December 2015
Charges (articles of the Criminal Code) –
220.2 – Calling for active insubordination towards legal requirements of representatives of the authority and to mass disorder, as well as violence against citizens;
281.2 – public appeals for the violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents;
283.2.1 – 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 with use of force or threats of use of force
Penal facility – Prison No 10
Case summary – Fuad Gahramanli is the deputy chairman of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, an opposition party critical of the government and its policy. Gahramanli has been engaged in politics for a long time; he has organized several protest actions, been administratively detained in peaceful protests several times and was subject to physical harassment. He regularly published articles of critical nature on press and social media.
On 26 November 2015, a confrontation broke out in Nardaran settlement of Baku between supporters of believer-activist Tale Baghirzade and police leaving 2 police officers and 5 residents dead. Consequently, dozens of believers including Tale Baghirzade were arrested, and several heavy charges were brought against them. Gahramanli posted several statuses on Facebook commenting on this incident. He stressed that the believers were not guilty and that they were arrested for criticizing governmental policy. Implying religious followers, he went on to say that the incident was followed by silence and that Baghirzade was left alone.
Following these posts, pro-governmental media started a smear campaign against Fuad Gahramanli himself and his party claiming that “they support criminals.”
10 days after the Nardaran incident, the Grave Crimes Investigation Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office summoned him via phone. He asked in what capacity he was summoned to the investigation office and whether there was an official notification. Having received no answer to his questions, he did not visit the investigation office. Shortly thereafter, when taking his children from school to home, police officers detained him in his courtyard and forcefully took him to the investigation office.
Gahramanli was officially charged for remarks he shared on Facebook and sentenced to pre-trial detention. While he was at court, his house was searched, and his computer was taken.
Five months later, in May 2016, another charge was brought against him under Article 220.2.
Analysis of the articles posted by Gahramanli on Nardaran incident shows that these remarks reflect his political view. He did not share opinions, which could form criminal elements underlying the charges brought against him since he did not call for violence or discrimination.
Sentence – On 25 January 2017 Baku Court of Grave Crimes (presiding judge Alovsat Abbasov) sentenced Gahramanli to 10 years of imprisonment. Appeal Court (chairing judge Amir Bayramov) upheld the decision with 20 July 2017 decision
Amnesty International recognized Fuad Gahramanli as a prisoner of conscience Revolving Doors, 2016, pp. 5-6).