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European Court Orders Fatullayev Released


Great Britain – Protesters outside the Azeri Embassy in London demand press freedom in Azerbaijan, 29Jun2009

Great Britain – Protesters outside the Azeri Embassy in London demand press freedom in Azerbaijan, 29Jun2009

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)
today ruled that Azerbaijani authorities should release journalist Eynulla
Fatullayev from prison and pay him 25,000 euros ($33,512) in moral damages,
RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The Strasbourg-based court said Azerbaijan had violated Fatullayev's rights to
freedom of expression and a fair trial.

Fatullayev, editor of the independent newspaper "Realny Azerbaijan," was first
jailed in 2007 for allegedly insulting Azerbaijanis killed in the February 1992
Khojali massacre, and subsequently on charges of instigating terrorism and tax
evasion. The consecutive prison terms add up to 8 and 1/2 years.

Fatullayev's father, Emin, told RFE/RL the court ruling is "fair" and he is
satisfied with it.

But Chingiz Asgarov, Azerbaijan's representative at the ECHR, said Azerbaijani
officials will appeal the ruling to the ECHR's Grand Chamber. He said the ECHR
is not empowered to issue orders to the courts of other countries.

Eynulla Fatullayev went on trial again on April 9 on charges of illegal
possession of drugs. He claims the drugs were planted in his cell in December
to create a pretext for keeping him in prison after the ECHR issued its ruling
on his appeal against his earlier convictions.

Fatullayev told the judge at the start of the trial that although he is
innocent he is certain he will be found guilty and sentenced to a fourth prison
term.

Reported by RFE/RL's O wire.
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