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Criminal Proceedings Launched Into Attack Against Prominent Azerbaijani Journalist

WATCH: Rafiq Tagi in the hospital following surgery. (Video: RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)


BAKU -- Azerbaijan's authorities have launched criminal proceedings into the attack against prominent writer and journalist Rafiq Tagi.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reported that Tagi remained in the hospital after being knifed on his way home late on November 19 in Baku.

The writer's wife and son gave testimony to the police. Tagi's relatives said he had at least five knife wounds to his back and neck, while a doctor said there were six stab wounds.

Following four hours of surgery, a doctor at the hospital was quoted as saying Tagi's injuries were no longer life-threatening. He has two broken ribs, injuries to his stomach and diaphragm, and his spleen was removed.
Rafiq Tagi

Rafiq Tagi

Following the surgery, Tagi explained to journalists through gestures that he had been attacked by one person.

Writer Shahbaz Xuduoglu told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that the attack was partially thwarted by a book that Tagi pressed against his chest.

"The knife touched the book but couldn’t reach his heart," Xuduoglu said. "Certainly, it’s an attempt to end his life. The attacker’s purpose was to kill him. It was an organized attack."

In 2007, a district court in Baku sentenced Tagi to three years in jail for an article printed in 2006 that was deemed to be critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

The editor in chief of the "Sanat" newspaper in which the article appeared, Samir Sadagatoglu, was also sentenced to four years in prison. Both were released by presidental pardon later that year.
The article also prompted an Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, to place a fatwa on Tagi, calling for his death.

Baba Veziroglu, another of Tagi's colleagues, told RFE/RL that he sees no motive for the attack.

"If the incident took place some years ago, I would have some suppositions," Veziroglu said. "But he has not written any controversial article recently. I think it is a mere hooliganism."

(Latest coverage from RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)

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