Date of arrest – 22 December 2015
Charges (articles of the Criminal Code) –
234.4.3 — illegal purchase or storage, without the intent to sell, of drugs or psychotropic substances in a quantity exceeding that necessary for personal consumption, when committed in a large amount)
Penal facility – Prison № 6
Case summary – Akhundzade is a son of Ruhulla Akhundzade, Astara district branch chairman of Islam Party. Mahammadali was arrested on 22 December 2015,when he with other family members was on his way from Baku, where he met with his imprisoned father to Astara.
Mahammadali Akhundzade has studied in religious school in Mashhad city of Iran. Along with his work as theology scholar Akhundzade was known as an author of critical articles and posts in social media.
Despite the fact that Akhundzade was in Baku, in the meeting with his father in prison, investigation claimed that he was in Astara and “found” drugs in the Narimanov street of Astara city. He was taken to Anti-Organized Crime Unit and held in the same cell with Tale Bagirov (Baghirzade), chairman of Muslim Unity Movement. During three days of detention he was threatened with charges related to Nardaran case (Baghirzade and others) if he will not agree to the charge on narcotic selling.
Akhundzade was not in the country when police raided Nardaran settlement to arrest Muslim Unity Movement activists on 26 November 2015. When he came back from Iran in mid-December, he has studied the Nardaran case and prepared a video “What happened in Nardaran” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzYsusqqMCE) which was placed in YouTube. In that video Mahammadali Akhundzade harshly criticized police operation.
Akhundzade said he was subject to psychological and physical torture in “Bandotdel”. These claims were not investigated by the law-enforcement or courts.
During the court investigation lawyers submitted evidences on innocence of Akhundzade, including evidences of his absence in Astara when police claims he “found” drugs. Court failed to examine grounded suspicions of the defence that the narcotics were planted to the pocket of Akhundzade and the case was falsified by police.
Lankaran Grave Crimes Court sentenced Mahammadali Akhundzade on 30 June 2016 to 5 years 6 months of prison term.