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European Court Ruling Favors Former Azerbaijani Officials


Former Economic Development Minister Farhad Aliyev

Former Economic Development Minister Farhad Aliyev

BAKU -- The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the 2005 arrests of former Azerbaijani Economic Development Minister Farhad Aliyev and former National Academy of Sciences President Eldar Salayev were illegal, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The court found on November 9 that the two men's right to "liberty and security" and the presumption of innocence were violated. It ruled that Azerbaijan must pay Aliyev 16,000 euros ($22,330) in non-pecuniary damage and 25,000 euros for costs and expenses.

Aliyev was arrested in October 2005 on suspicion of being involved in a planned coup d'etat. In a judgment upheld by the Azerbaijani Supreme Court in July 2009, he was convicted of a number of criminal offenses, including embezzlement and actions aimed at usurping state power.

In his appeal to the ECHR, Aliyev complained of the conditions of his pretrial detention and the lack of adequate medical care.

He also alleged that legal procedures were violated during his arrest and detention, his pretrial detention was unreasonably long, and the judicial proceedings with regard to his detention were unfair.

Aliyev claimed that statements by the Prosecutor-General's Office and by two ministries after his arrest amounted to an infringement of his right to the presumption of innocence.

Cemil Hasanli, former head of the Committee To Protect Farhad Aliyev's Rights, told RFE/RL he was sure before the ruling would be in favor of Aliyev because his detention was unfair from the start.

Aliyev's lawyer, Elton Quliyev, told RFE/RL they have submitted another appeal to the ECHR regarding the unfairness of the investigation.

Eldar Salayev did not submit a claim for damages and the court found it unnecessary to award him compensation.

Salayev's lawyer, Mukhtar Mustafayev, told RFE/RL "the ECHR ruling is a matter of honor" for Salayev.

Salayev said in a statement his complaint to the ECHR should not be construed as reflecting his opposition to Azerbaijani authorities. He said he hopes "the time will come when Azerbaijanis will have the opportunity to find justice in local courts, not the European Court."

Salayev was also detained in October 2005 on suspicion of attempted seizure of state power by force. He complained of having been held in custody beyond the 48-hour maximum period permitted by domestic law prior to being brought before a judge.
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