Mina Miradova 10/01/09
Defense lawyers for two Azerbaijani youth activists presented photos on October 1 during the duo’s trial that appeared to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case.
The hearing started with wry congratulations from one of the two defendants, 26-year-old Adnan Hajizade, a co-founder of the OL (To Be) youth movement, to employees of the General Prosecutor’s Office. October 1 marked the office’s 91st anniversary of its formation.
The trial continued with testimony from police officers who were on duty at Baku police precinct No. 39 on the evening of July 8, 2009. That is the night when Hajizade and fellow youth activist Emin Milli allegedly came to the station to report that they had been "brutally" beaten by two unknown men in a Baku cafe.
Speaking in a low voice, two of the station’s duty officers testified that they never encountered Milli and Hajizade at the station on the night in question. Defense lawyers then produced photos proving that Milli and Hajizade had indeed appeared at the station that night. The two police officers confirmed on the witness stand that the facility depicted in the photos was precinct No. 39.
Prosecutors sought a motion to exclude the testimony and evidence from the record, but the motion was denied.
Three defense witnesses, friends of the youth activists, went on to confirm Hajizade and Milli’s contention that they were assaulted by the two men portrayed by investigators as the victims of the fight, Babek Huseynov and Vusal Mammadov.
Huseynov, the defense witnesses testified, first spoke insultingly to Hajizade and Milli while the two were supposedly discussing "youth issues" and everyday life. When the pair did not respond to the insults, Mammadov reportedly approached Milli, asked what he was saying, and then head-butted him. Mammadov allegedly delivered a subsequent punch to Hajizade.
The witnesses claimed that Mammadov directed his punches only at Hajizade and Milli, while Huseynov prevented other cafГ© customers from stopping the fight. The motive for the attack was unclear, they said. The three young men later claimed that Huseynov and Mammadov had entered the police station laughing. "How could they laugh if they were beaten up?" defense witness Bahram Ahmedi asked.
The defense will be allowed to invite a medical expert to the court to explain the results of an examination performed on Hajizade and Milli. The trial is scheduled to resume on October 7.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s government is coming under increasing international pressure in connection with the youth activists’ trial. On September 28, Assistant US Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip H. Gordon told the United Nations General Assembly that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had raised the youth activists’ trial with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, and had "underscored our interest in that case and our interest in seeing an open and fair process," media outlets reported.
US embassy spokesperson in Baku Terry Davidson told EurasiaNet that "we raise this issue in every meeting with the government." Davidson stressed that "the United States has a very strong concern about this, and really hopes the trial will have good results."
Editor's Note: Mina Miradova is a freelance writer based in Baku.
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