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The Preventive Reaction Group (PRG) has just released its interim report on the case of imprisoned Khural editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli, declaring that the charges against Zeynalli are trumped-up, and that he was arrested as a result of his criticisms of the government.
Zeynalli’s arrest on October 28th and the extension of his detention term are both deemed illegal. His lawyers’ appeals in connection with these issues have been denied by Baku Appeals Court. The PRG also believes that the January 23rd 2012 decision by Narimanov District Court that Zeynalli must pay 50 000 AZN in compensation to Baku-Baltika LLC following the LLC’s lawsuit was illegal.
The investigation of the newspaper was carried out without the representatives of the newspaper being present. In addition, the report finds that the investigation materials show receipts apparently received by Zeynalli himself during the time when he was already in prison. His lawyers filed appeals to the economic court regarding the amounts of the fines. Zeynalli was fined 7251 AZN fine for tax evasion, for which Zeynalli he can be sentenced to 3 years in prison or banned from practicing as a journalist for 3 years.
Mehman Aliyev, director of Turan News Agency and a member of the Preventive Reaction Group, believes that a new charge was filed against Zeynalli as a means of shoring up the allegations against Zeynalli, given the flimsy evidence for the original charges of bribery. The aim of these false charges is to keep Zeynalli behind bars by any possible means, they believe, to prevent him from working as a journalist. The group also sees the arrest as a deliberate warning to other independent journalists.
The head of the PRG, Afgan Mukhtarli, believes that Zeynalli’s arrest is illegal and that he was essentially abducted, and in addition, that Zeynalli is currently being held in custody unlawfully, as his term finished a month ago.
Khural newspaper representative Nizami Hasanli reported that Avaz Zeynalli and other inmates at Kurdakhani prison are not being allowed to watch the Eurovision song contest.
The Preventive Reaction Group expressed its commitment to continuing its investigations, and to raise awareness among the local and international community regarding the case.
Video Description: GOVERNMENT WANTS TO KEEP ZEYNALLI IN PRISION BY ALL MEANS