The “Dadashbayli” case

Said Dadashbayli studied at Azerbaijan State Economic University, majoring in economics and production management. He worked at Azerbaijan State Oil Company from 1992 to 1998 and has also worked for Azeri EM-AY Drilling Fluids, a joint Azerbaijan-US company, as a logistics coordinator. The Canadian government has issued him permanent residence due to his area of specialization. He is married and has two children.

From 13 to 18 January 2007 approximately 30 people were arrested in the so-called “Said Dadashbayli case” and charged with creating a radical religious group and committing espionage for Iran. A while later, some were released, but only after testifying against the eleven defendants that were held at the Ministry of National Security’s detention facility.

There were serious legal violations from the initial round of arrests. Ministry of National Security officers entered the apartments of the accused by force, without presenting search permits. Right in front of the parents and relatives of those being arrested and in spite of their objections, Ministry of National Security officers planted guns and other needed “material evidence” in the apartments in order to justify the arrests. These are obviously in serious violation of Azerbaijan’s Code of Criminal Procedure. Detainees were also denied access to their lawyers in initial days after their arrest.

Pre-trial detention

The defendants were held in single cells at the detention facility of the Ministry of National Security from 13 January 2007 to 11 December 2007. They were periodically beaten; deprived of sleep, food, and drinking water; and given psychotropic substances. Authorities threatened to torture their relatives should the accused refuse to confess.

One of the imprisoned in this case, Emin Mammadov, passed away due to severe torture in March 2007 – there is a medical certificate verifying the cause of death. Mammadov’s death was hidden from his family and public for several months. When they did find out, his family was threatened with further repression should they contact human rights defenders or try to go public. When Mammadov’s attorney submitted an inquiry about the conditions in the detention facility, the Ministry of National Security responded that they had no records of Emin Mammadov and he was never held there. After losing his life as a result of severe torture, Mammadov was not even mentioned during the court proceedings. For the court and the public at large, Emin Mammadov disappeared without a trace.

Trial

Court sessions were closed to the public as well as the families of the accused. According to Article 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, court sessions can be conducted closed to the public in order to prevent leaks of state secrets. But there was no sensitive information in this case, and no legal standing for closed court proceedings.

The defendants did not plead guilty during the trial. They stated that they were victims of torture and other illegal actions committed by authorities. The court found that majority of the defendants charged with starting a terrorist organization had not even known each other prior to imprisonment. Prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence for any of charges – the trial ended according to the will of the prosecutor.

Sentence

On 10 December 2007, the Baku Serious Crimes Court (judge Anvar Seyidov) sentenced Said Dadashbayli and his nine co-defendants to terms of imprisonment ranging from 12 to 14 years. Dadashbayli, Rashad Aliyev and Jeyhun Aliyev received to 14 years’ imprisonment. Farid Agayev, Samir Gojayev, Baybala Guliyev, Jahangir Karimov and Rasim Karimov were each given a 13-year sentence while Emil Mohbalryev and Mikayil Idrisov received 12 years’ loss of liberty.

Baku Court of Appeal upheld the verdict on 25 February 2008, and the Supreme Court followed its lead in the autumn of 2008.