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Trial Of Six Azerbaijani Opposition Activists Continues


Ali Karimli: "The criminal case was fabricated..."

Ali Karimli: "The criminal case was fabricated..."

BAKU -- The trial of six opposition activists detained during an antigovernment protest four months ago resumed in Baku today, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The six are Azerbaijan Popular Front members Sahib Karimov, Arif Alishli, Babek Hasanov, and Zulfuqar Eyvazli; Musavat party activist Elshan Hasanov; and Elnur Israfilov.

They are charged with organizing "actions resulting in the violation of public order, and resisting and using force against government officials." They could be sentenced to up to three years in jail if found guilty.

Two people were ordered to leave the courtroom: a 15-year-old relative of one of the defendants who filmed the proceedings on his mobile phone, and a woman who denounced the proceedings. People in the courtroom protested the expulsions.

The leaders of the opposition Musavat and Azerbaijan Popular Front parties, Isa Qambar and Ali Karimli, respectively, objected to the woman being forced to leave the courtroom.

Police officers said to have been injured by opposition activists during the protest testifed that they did not see any of the defendants smash the windows of a bus, which is the main accusation against them.

The defendants' lawyers demanded that the police officers should not testify further as their statements were contradictory.

Karimli told RFE/RL after the session that the witnesses' testimonies prove the defendants are not guilty.

"No one has even seen them break the glass," he said. "The criminal case was fabricated to arrest those who joined the protest. The trial process also proves it. We observed how the indictment was exposed."

An RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent reports that after the trial, dozens of opposition activists chanted "Freedom" and "Resignation" in front of the court building.

No detentions were reported, and police prevented some protesters from blocking the road in front of the building.

The trial on the same charges of eight other activists detained during the April 2 protest will continue next week.

Read more in Azeri here
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