Azerbaijani court agrees to hear appeal from Hajizada and Milli on Monday

By Dan Petty
Collegian Reporter

An Azerbaijani district court has agreed to consider appeals on Monday from Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli, who say that law enforcement agencies violated their presumption of innocence when arresting them on charges of hooliganism.

Statements from the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office are presuming that both Hajizada, 26, and Milli, 30, are guilty, even though a court must rule on the case first, the Turan Information Agency in Azerbaijan is reporting. The court will be supervised by judge Nureddin Bagirov, Turan said.

In a brief e-mail message, Hajizada’s father, Hikmet, said the trial was still scheduled for sometime around Sept. 8.

“This is just a hearing to challenge police procedure,” he wrote.

Turan said both men’s lawyers, Isahan Ashurov and Elton Guliyev, visited the arrested activists on Monday in prison, where the men have been held since their arrest in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on July 8. Neither man apparently complained about his holding conditions, Turan reported, but they continue to insist the court decision to keep them detained for two months until their expected trial on Sept. 8 is unfair.

Hajizada — a 2005 Richmond graduate — was arrested on July 8 along with Milli at an outdoor restaurant in Baku after both were involved in a fight with two nearby patrons who witnesses say attacked the young bloggers for criticizing the Azerbaijani government.

When the fight ended, Hajizada and Milli were both injured and reported the incident to local police, who instead detained and charged them with hooliganism. Their alleged attackers counter Hajizada and Milli were attacked them first, unprovoked.

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