BAKU -- An Azerbaijani court has charged human rights activist and former parliamentary candidate Vidadi Isgandarli with election violations and remanded him in pretrial custody for two months, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.
Isgandarli is charged with "coercing citizens to vote against their will or preventing their voting process" and "interfering with or influencing the work of election commissions." The charges were initially brought against him after the November 7 parliamentary elections.
Isgandarli was detained during protests organized by the opposition on April 2 and April 17 and sentenced after the second one to 15 days' administrative arrest. He says he was subjected to torture by the police.
He was ordered detained for two months immediately after that 15-day sentence ended on May 2.
During his election campaign, Isgandarli criticized corruption and violations of basic human rights and the use of government resources by candidates from the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party.
Bashir Suleymanli, executive director of the Baku-based NGO Elections Monitoring and Education Center, told RFE/RL today the criminal case against Isgandarli is "fabricated" in retaliation for his recent political engagement.
Suleymanli said local officials who really falsified elections results were never punished. He recalled how the head of the Naftalan city council was dismissed after the 2009 municipal elections for interfering in the election process, but no criminal proceedings were launched against him.
Read in Azeri here