Oktay Mamedov, who served as personal physician to Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey, has categorically rejected the possibility that the overthrown head of state's death may have been caused by poison. So, too, has former Deputy National Security Minister Sulheddin Akper. The leader of Azerbaijan's small Muasir (Modern) Musavat party, Khafiz Gadjiyev, claimed last week
that Elchibey told him prior to his death from prostate cancer 12 years ago that Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AHCP) Chairman Ali Kerimli had poisoned him
Gadjiyev subsequently told the newspaper "Gundem" that he first learned that learned that Kerimli had poisoned Elchibey from Akper. Akper, who was elected head of the Open Society Party in May
, told the opposition daily "Azadlyq" that claim is "nonsense."
Mamedov for his part said Elchibey was advised by Turkish doctors in May 2000 to undergo surgery, but refused. He traveled in early July to Turkey and died on August 22 in the Gulhane military hospital. Mamedov said he was with Elchibey to the end. He said
if the former president had had the slightest suspicion he had been poisoned, he would have told either Mamedov or someone else whom he trusted.
Elchibey's widow Khalima has refused to comment on Gadjiyev's allegations. She says the family will under no circumstances permit Elchibey's body to be exhumed.
Speaking on August 22 on the anniversary of Elchibey's death, Kerimli termed the attempt to incriminate him
a last desperate effort by the authorities to compromise the opposition.
Kerimli pointed out that Elchibey's family are in possession of the death certificate giving the cause of his death as cancer, and that the Turkish physicians who treated Elchibey are still alive and able to testify should the criminal case opened by the Baku prosecutor-general's office come to trial.
Also on August 22, Elchibey's close relative Ali Mursal ogly and several of his former bodyguards were summoned to the Baku city prosecutor's office for questioning.