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Slaying Of Azerbaijani Editor Probed

The late Elmar Huseinov 3 March 2005 -- Police in Azerbaijan say they are investigating the murder of a prominent editor whose magazine had been sharply critical of authorities, including President Ilham Aliyev.

Police and prosecutors are quoted as pledging to pursue all leads to solve the murder of Elmar Huseinov, including whether he was shot dead because of his work as editor of the magazine "Monitor."

Police said seven bullets were fired during the killing yesterday near the doors of Huseinov's Baku apartment, with at least two bullets hitting Husseinov in the heart.

Huseinov had repeatedly faced lawsuits from Azerbaijani officials for articles published in his magazine.

Alex Lupis, program coordinator for Europe and Central Asia at the New York-based journalism advocacy group Committee to Protect Journalists, told RFE/RL that the group was "shocked and saddened" by the killing and called on President Aliyev to ensure that the killing is aggressively investigated and prosecuted.

"Press freedom [in Azerbaijan] has continued to decline over the last two years, ever since President Ilham Aliyev took office, and we're calling on him to ensure that this case is aggressively investigated and prosecuted."

A representative of the international Helsinki human rights committee in Azerbaijan, Arzul Abdullayeva, called the killing "terrorism against the press."

(Reuters/AP/AFP/Azerbaijan Service)