Date of arrest – 23 December 2015
Charges (2000 Criminal Code) –
182.2.4 — Extortion (when committed with the purpose of acquiring a large amount of property).
Penal facility – Prison No. 6
Case summary –
Saday Asad oglu Shakarli was arrested based on a complaint filed by Asif Jahangirov, an adviser to the Minister of Taxes. According to the charge, the poet had demanded 10,000 AZN from said official, threatening to publish discrediting reports about him on the press.
This arrest took place after the poet published his book Qurd urdyi (Wolf heart) with financial support from the Ministry of Taxes (some of the poet’s previous books had been published with support from Ministry of Taxes, which is acknowledged in the books as well). Following the poet’s arrest, his house was searched, and all copies of this book were taken and destroyed. This fact was not recorded by the law enforcement agencies.
In Qurd urdyi, remarks of critical nature are made about Azerbaijan’s former President Heydar Aliyev and current President Ilham Aliyev. A short passage from the book:
“President of the country, Abulfaz Elchibei abandoned his office and fled to his native village Kalaki. Those in power univocally invited Nakhichevan Supreme Assembly chairman Heydar Aliyev to run the country. A democrat, whom the people trusted and elected President, spat on the will of the people. The people’s will was shattered like beads and scattered under their feet.
Soviet era tribulations began repeating. They arrested those whom they wanted to arrest. From those who fled the country there is no news. Newspapers occasionally publish the list of those who were killed and refresh our memory. All the world’s politicians had one goal: to get their hands on the natural resources of Azerbaijan. We have said it repeatedly that those, who have failed to evolve from a great person of their regions and tribes into a great person of Azerbaijan, see Heydar and Ilham as models of greatness. Their attitude towards Heydar Aliyev is understandable. Even today, they are afraid of him even when he is dead and believe that he will rise from the dead until he is buried.
Given that 112 professors of the country think Ilham Aliyev is smarter than them and Caucasian Muslims’ lifelong Sheikh ul-Islam (religious leader) Pashazade, Azerbaijani writers’ lifelong Sheikh ul-Islam Anar, Azerbaijan artists’, composers’ and all ordinary Azerbaijani’s Sheikh ul-Islams see Ilham Aliyev as an alternative-less leader for their state, then it is evident how miserable is the situation of Azerbaijan’s so-called spheres of religion, science, art and literature”.
Monitoring of the court hearings has shown that the only evidence against the poet is the testimony of the advisor to the Minister of Taxes. Neither the investigative body nor the court investigated what defamatory information about this official the poet possessed, or whether they really had had a conversation in this context. Motions lodged by the poet’s attorneys in court, which could have had an impact on the merits of the case, were not granted.
Sentence – On 16 May 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court (presiding judge Afgan Hajiyev) sentenced the poet to 10 years’ loss of liberty thereby granting the full sentence requested by the public prosecutor. Another unconventional instance in this case is the fact that the poet will serve his sentence in a high security prison although it was his first criminal conviction.
In view of the amendments made to the criminal law regarding the amount of damage inflicted, the Baku Court of Appeal Saday Shakarli’s sentence to 5 years on 3 August 2016. Supreme Court upheld the previous decision on 12 January 2017.
Release — let out early, March-July 2018. Details not known.