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Azerbaijan's Former Interior Minister Detained

8 April 2005 -- Police in Baku have detained Iskender Hamidov, the head of Azerbaijan's opposition National Democratic Party and a former interior minister, over allegations that that he tried to interfere in a drug raid.

Media reports say Hamidov was detained yesterday with at least two of his aides.

Azerbaijan's ANS television quoted the Interior Ministry's press office as saying Hamidov was detained after he attempted to interfere in a security raid on drug traffickers in a Baku street.

Hamidov's lawyer, Yavar Huseyn, offered a different version of the incident. He said Hamidov and his aides were stopped by members of the Interior Ministry's organized-crime department shortly after leaving their office.

In 1995, Hamidov received a 14-year jail sentence on charges of embezzlement and abuse of office.

As a result of pressures exerted by the Council of Europe, which considered the charges brought against him politically motivated, he was released from jail in December 2003.